Easiest language to learn

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70 Replies - 4196 Views - Last Post: 29 June 2013 - 02:51 PM

#1 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 02:33 AM

What do you think? Is it Scheme with its minimal syntax? How about brainfuck with its minimal instruction set? BASIC with its English-like words or Python for the ease of throwing things together?
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#2 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:00 AM

BASIC, hands down. (I'm talking ancient, dead, gw-basic with line numbers style basic. ) Very few commands, simple syntax. No requirement to grasp objects, classes, or even functions. Just statements being executed sequentially. It's often been lamented that there is really no modern equivalent.

Scheme? Despite syntax simplicity, there's a lot of foundational baggage there. Its abstraction does make it hard to explain how computers actually think. Also, I go cross eyed after the fifth or sixth parens.

C is actually a very simple language, though it will bite you if you don't play nice. It also makes clear how computers do think. Dealing the the minutiae of memory, etc. This is both good and bad.

Python, while it can be complex, can also be simple. No OO is required. Newb's first program can be banged together without even knowing what a function is. Probably the best current choice.
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#3 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:03 AM

Basic:

10 start
20 print "hello"
30 goto 20

cant get much easier
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#4 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:35 AM

Python:
while true:
  print("Hello")



Ruby:
loop do
   puts "Hello"
end



Those both look easier, though I would argue that Hello World is generally a poor indication of a language's verbosity/complexity. Java's, however, does serve as a good indicator of what's to come:
public Class Hello
{
  public static void main(String[] args)
  {
    System.out.println("Hello");
  }
}



That aside, I would probably agree on BASIC or Python being easiest to learn, and on Python having an excellent utility to difficulty ratio.

This post has been edited by xclite: 12 June 2013 - 05:36 AM

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#5 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:32 AM

those both look simpler in verbosity

but I'd still give it to BASIC not just for it's getting straight to the point, but also because it's very human readable.

I don't have to know anything but plain old English to get a grasp of what BASIC is doing.

Personally I hate the verbosity that it creates and tend towards "curly languages" (that's what my boss calls languages with lots of brackets and parenthesis). Despite that, I understand why some people love the BASIC syntax, it's easy to introduce yourself to.

To take your python example:
what is while?
why while true?
what does the : mean?
what are the parens for?

The ruby example is pretty simple though... only confusing thing is the "puts".


Of course to us programmers they all look stupid simple, but to someone who has never seen a programming language before. Symbols and the sort are off putting, they require previous explanations.

BASIC on the other hand requires simple expectations coming in.

1) user must read english
2) user must understand directions are in a top down order (which is a reasonable expectation since recipes and building instructions and nearly all instructions they've read up to this date outside of programming are in top down order)

the rest can be easily deduced... what are those numbers? Oh every line has them and they're sequential... they must be line numbers. What is goto? Oh it's followed by a number that matches a line number... it must goto that line. What is print? It probably prints... not sure where to, but I kinda get the idea.





As for OP question.

It's really an incomplete question. What is easy?

Your examples imply a diversity to easy. You refer to the small command set of brainfuck, it's ease of learning is referring to how fast you can pick up the entire command set. Where as you refer to the ease of BASIC which is an introductory ease, how much effort has to be put in by the student before they begin to understand the language.

These 2 things are different, it's apples and oranges. They just both happened to be called fruit (easy).

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 12 June 2013 - 07:43 AM

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#6 Flukeshot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:44 AM

Print? What? No! I don't want to print one word! What a waste of paper! Cancel! Someone! IT guy! Help!
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#7 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:10 AM

Quote

It's really an incomplete question. What is easy?

Your examples imply a diversity to easy. You refer to the small command set of brainfuck, it's ease of learning is referring to how fast you can pick up the entire command set. Where as you refer to the ease of BASIC which is an introductory ease, how much effort has to be put in by the student before they begin to understand the language.


Yes, it was an incomplete question. Maybe if I tightened it up there might even be a correct answer but what I was really doing was fishing for interesting answers. You gave me a good one so thank you very much. :)
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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:17 AM

Python, hands down, if you ask me, but I suppose it depends on what the actual question is. What is it to "learn a language" and who is doing the learning, and what sort of experience do they have?


A meta-question comes to mind as well: how should we rank "ease of learning" among the features of a language? That is, why is "ease of learning" something we care about, and how much should we care about it?
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#9 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 11:49 AM

BASIC is easy, but should you really learn BASIC? A friend of mine teaches Python to his high school students and they seem to pick it up OK. It is a far better introduction to programming habits than BASIC.
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#10 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 12:53 PM

BASIC is a fine enough language, and there are still modern dialects of it. What's wrong with BASIC?
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#11 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 01:00 PM

I would first like to say that your native language is likely the easiest for your to understand/ pick up. In my case it is English.

All joking aside, I believe that web-based languages are quite simple to learn. Assuming we aren't restricting it to programming languages, but computer languages in general, then I would say HTML is probably the easiest. It has a nice, clearly defined number of tags, which follow a nice set of rules, and you can see how the page changes by simply saving the file and refreshing your browser. Certainly, some browsers do better at following the standard than others, but they all basically work the same.

If we are going with programming languages, I would say Javascript, PHP, and C are all pretty simple to learn. PHP is very C-like so if you learn one then learning the other will happen quickly. Javascript is nice and simple once you get used to working with DOM and prototype, though it is worth noting that prototype isn't requires, and while everything in JS is an object, you don't necessarily need to create your own objects to make something useful.
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#12 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 03:12 PM

View Postlordofduct, on 21 June 2013 - 07:53 PM, said:

BASIC is a fine enough language, and there are still modern dialects of it. What's wrong with BASIC?


You'd want something that is structured and encourages structured programming. BASIC encourages lazy and sloppy programming. Global variables everywhere. With traditional versions of basic there isn't decent object orientation, it's tacked on as an afterthought and even advanced versions of BASIC still have to support decades old syntax and expressions like GOTO which should just not be used. Python enforces indentation which BASIC doesn't. Python introduces namespacing and packages which BASIC does not have.

Visual Basic .NET might have addressed some of these problems, but I still intrinsically detest BASIC. I wish I had learned Python, C or Java first, because they would have taught me programming in a more solid way:

'It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration'

-- Edsger W. Dijkstra
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#13 andrewsw  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 03:21 PM

That quotation is from 1975 (or even earlier).
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#14 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 03:21 PM

View Postandrewsw, on 21 June 2013 - 10:21 PM, said:

That quotation is from 1975 (or even earlier).


That is because BASIC has been around for that long. And hasn't died yet.
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#15 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 21 June 2013 - 03:50 PM

.

This post has been edited by cfoley: 01 July 2013 - 04:23 AM

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