Best Programming Language

Not sure what to study!

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63 Replies - 13087 Views - Last Post: 21 January 2013 - 11:55 PM

#16 SixOfEleven  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 08 July 2010 - 09:27 AM

No language is perfect for every situation. As many have pointed out already, it is about what your requirements are and as just pointed out, it is also a matter of preference. If you can't figure out how a language works and how to program with it, why use it? A higher level language that offers good abstraction is usually better for a beginner than starting with a lower level language that gives you more control over the computer. I say that because the use of the abstraction, while it doesn't give you as much control, shields you from many tasks and allows you to concentrate more on the task you are trying to accomplish. So, I guess it boils down to two things.

  • What are you trying to do?
  • What is your preference?

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#17 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 08 July 2010 - 09:34 AM

View PostOler1s, on 08 July 2010 - 07:20 AM, said:

There's a book called Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. It's available freely online, but there's plenty of Amazon reviews. What's amusing about those reviews is that they either love it or hate it. Reviews are basically either 5 stars or 1 stars. Peter Norvig made a review of that book, and what he said is also relevant to this thread:

Peter Norvig on Amazon review of SICP said:

I think its fascinating that there is such a split between those who love and hate this book. Most reviews give a bell-shaped curve of star ratings; this one has a peak at 1, a peak at 5, and very little in between. How could this be? I think it is because SICP is a very personal message that works only if the reader is a computer scientist (or willing to become one). So I agree that the book's odds of success are better if you read it after having some experience.
To use an analogy, if SICP were about automobiles, it would be for the person who wants to know how cars work, how they are built, and how one might design fuel-efficient, safe, reliable vehicles for the 21st century. The people who hate SICP are the ones who just want to know how to drive their car on the highway, just like everyone else.

Those who hate SICP think it doesn't deliver enough tips and tricks for the amount of time it takes to read. But if you're like me, you're not looking for one more trick, rather you're looking for a way of synthesizing what you already know, and building a rich framework onto which you can add new learning over a career. That's what SICP has done for me. I read a draft version of the book around 1982 and it changed the way I think about my profession. If you're a thoughtful computer scientist (or want to be one), it will change your life too.

Some of the reviewers complain that SICP doesn't teach the basics of OO design, and so on. In a sense they are right. The book doesn't directly tell you how to design and write an object-oriented program using the subset of object-oriented principles that show up in the syntax of Java or C++. Rather, the book tells you what those principles are, how they came to be selected as worthwhile, how they can be implemented from the ground up, and how a different combination of principles might be more appropriate for a particular problem. This approach requires you to understand the range of possibilities, and to think about trade-offs as you go through the design process. Programming is a craft that is subject to frequent failure: many projects are started and abandoned because the designers do not have the flexibility, experience and understanding to come up with a suitable design and implementation. SICP gives you an approach that will succeed, but it is an approach based on principles and wisdom, not on a checklist. If you don't understand the principles, or if you are the kind of person who wants to be given a cookbook of what to do rather than to think creatively, or if you only want to work on problems that are pretty much like the problem you worked on last time, then this approach will not work for you. There are other approaches that will be more reproducible for a limited range of simple problems, but there is no better way than SICP to learn how to address the truly hard problems.

Donald Knuth says he wrote his books for "the one person in 50 who has this strange way of thinking that makes a programmer". I think the most amazing thing about SICP is that there are so FEW people who hate it: if Knuth were right, then only 1 out of 50 people would be giving this 5 stars, instead of about 25 out of 50. Now, a big part of the explanation is that the audience is self-selected, and is not a representative sample. But I think part of it is because Sussman and Abelson have succeeded grandly in communicating "this strange way of thinking" to (some but not all) people who otherwise would never get there.


So there's a critical message embedded there. There's a duality between those looking for tools, and those looking for principles. As much as people might claim that they enjoy both, there's really a difference. Some just want to know the next best tool, learn the next best tricks, and get to work. But there are others who truly delight in the abstract problems and thought process. The art of thinking and solving such problems itself is fascinating.

So when a talent scout looks for programmers, but doesn't specify languages, it's a good sign that what is important is that enjoyment of problem solving and programming principles. The precise tricks in one's repertoire aren't that relevant. They aren't looking for a cook. They are looking for a chef.

Which is why your question of "best programming language" means that you might not be a match. You are asking about the next language. That's tool based. What the talent scout is looking for is people who simple explored, coming into contact with different ideas. Programming languages are ways of expressing logic and design, and bleeding edge languages probably are trying to do something different! So someone who explores such languages is trying to find out about how others are thinking about expressing their ideas in code. Not the practicals of the day to day job.

Does any of what I said help?


+1 for mentioning SICP. Probably the best text ever for learning to program.
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#18 bocaccio  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 10 July 2010 - 05:08 PM

Instead of asking BEST. I would ask which one will be alive the longest? I asked google if vb.net is dying and i saw alot on that and also ppl are asking if javascript is dying too.
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#19 Locke  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 10 July 2010 - 05:11 PM

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs was the textbook used in my Programming Language Paradigms class. We used Scheme. :D

Good book.
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#20 Frinavale  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 07:49 AM

View Postbocaccio, on 10 July 2010 - 11:08 PM, said:

Instead of asking BEST. I would ask which one will be alive the longest? I asked google if vb.net is dying and i saw alot on that and also ppl are asking if javascript is dying too.


Not sure what you were reading but VB.NET is not dying.
It is constantly being improved by Microsoft (just like C#). New features are being added to it all the time. I do not see how anyone can be claiming that it is dying when it is keeping up with developer needs just as well as C# is keeping up with developer needs.

There are some things available in C# that are not available in VB.NET...and there are some things in VB.NET that are not available in C#.

For example, recently C# has incorporated "var" into it's language. VB.NET doesn't have a "var" in it's language because of how "Dim" works: it declares variables using implicit type declaration. VB.NET doesn't need "var" because it has always been able to do this. So, in regards to implicit type declarations (var), VB.NET was actually more advanced than C# for a very long time.

New features are constantly being added to VB.NET just like new features are constantly being added to C#. VB.NET is not dead.


I can't really say much about Javascript except that it is used by web developers all the time. You could not use Ajax (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) without Javascript...you could not provide a lot of client-side user interface interactions without it. It's true that CSS does let you create menus etc that don't depend on Javascript...but CSS can't do client-side validation or display alerts when the user does something because HTML and CSS do not have any logic control built into it (they are not programming languages). In other words without having some sort of logic-controlled language, like Javascript, you will not be able to interact with the user client-side.

Although Javascript is very old (and a little strange) I don't really see it dying until something better comes along that does let you add client-side applied logic.

-Frinny

This post has been edited by Frinavale: 12 July 2010 - 07:52 AM

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#21 Theaegd  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 03:49 PM

This same topic has been created so many times before with the same answers. No best language, some are better than others however, but there is no best one. I recommend going with a popular one such as VB or C# or C++ because there will be a lot of helpful resources on getting started.
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#22 nooblet  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:43 PM

View PostTheaegd, on 12 July 2010 - 02:49 PM, said:

I recommend going with a popular one such as VB or C# or C++ because there will be a lot of helpful resources on getting started.


I'm sorry but I have to disagree on this one. First, you should recommend a language base on what type of developer they are. Are they a software developer, a mobile developer, a web developer, etc etc... Second, I have absolutely no use for VB or C# and C++ is beast for many to tame and a bit over the top in some cases.
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#23 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:44 PM

nooblet you may have no use for C# but the thousands upon thousands of C# developers out there feel differently. C# is an excellent language to start with, or work with in the long run for that matter
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#24 Dogstopper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 05:36 PM

View PostPsychoCoder, on 12 July 2010 - 06:44 PM, said:

nooblet you may have no use for C# but the thousands upon thousands of C# developers out there feel differently. C# is an excellent language to start with, or work with in the long run for that matter


Even I agree with this! Though I am mostly Java, C# is taking its hold and one must realize this.
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#25 nooblet  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 06:19 PM

View PostPsychoCoder, on 12 July 2010 - 03:44 PM, said:

nooblet you may have no use for C# but the thousands upon thousands of C# developers out there feel differently. C# is an excellent language to start with, or work with in the long run for that matter


I realize that and I wasn't pointing out that people shouldn't use it because I don't. That would be blatant bad advice. But as I said in my original response, language recommendations should be related to what people do. In many cases, C# many never apply at all.

This post has been edited by nooblet: 12 July 2010 - 06:20 PM

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#26 nathanpc  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 06:42 PM

Every language is the best, but who makes the difference is the programmer. ;)
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#27 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 07:12 PM

View PostPsychoCoder, on 12 July 2010 - 03:44 PM, said:

nooblet you may have no use for C# but the thousands upon thousands of C# developers out there feel differently. C# is an excellent language to start with, or work with in the long run for that matter


Thousands upon thousands of thousands and moar thousands!!?!?!?!?111?!

You and I may be at odds most of the time, but we really do act a lot a like, and that horrifies me. Neither of us can stand not defending our favorite language(s)/platform every little chance we get.

I should learn to ignore such things, and keep the passion slow-burning. There is a thin line between passionate and fanboy, and we both err too far to the right. :\

Also: This thread is still going? Isn't Brainfuck the obvious choice? s_s

This post has been edited by Raynes: 12 July 2010 - 07:13 PM

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#28 programble  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 12 July 2010 - 07:19 PM

I code right to x86 instruction code. I dunno what you guys are on about.
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#29 monkeyC  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 17 July 2010 - 07:05 PM

I think the buzz words of Ruby, Haskell and Clojure are the best! After all, when I decided to read a bit about programming, I had to start from scratch, working from an absolute deficiency of information. That means buzz words are important. Yeah, I said it. Kill me. :P
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#30 biggerB  Icon User is offline

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Re: Best Programming Language

Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:01 AM

Try taking this quiz...
LINK
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