Interview: Guy Steele on Programming Languages

| by Abel Avram Follow 9 Followers on Jul 30, 2008. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Floyd Marinescu, co-founder of InfoQ, interviewed Guy Steele, a Sun Fellow working for the Programming Language Research Group at Sun, about programming languages, the lessons to be learned from the past and what to expect from the future.

Guy Steele has seen many programming languages appearing on the stage during the last 40 years, and he says that none of them should be considered a universal language appropriate to solve all the needs. There are specific needs a language tends to address like pattern matching, scientific computation, or platform independence. While a language may excel in a domain, it may fall short on features and strength in others.

Guy sees concurrency as a necessity in today's and near future languages. He supports the idea that in the future languages which fail to address parallelism will die. By parallelism he means languages which make good use of multiple processors and multiple cores, and not just simply doing multi-threading.

Guy has a positive opinion about Domain Specific Languages (DSL), considering them as an excellent opportunity for programmers to design new languages which support their domains. He considers that is quite helpful for programmers who want to create a DSL to start by learning about languages in general, what is the inner fabric which makes a language, then create a language which expresses the domain with great accuracy.

The entire interview is 20 minutes long.

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? by Wong Ray

It seems nothing to say.

errors in transcript by Robin St

There are some errors in the transcript.

He said that you should learn Haskell, not Pascal (Pascal is neither a modern nor a functional language). And it's not "parallelism would hit a death stop" but "parallelism would hit the desktop". Also, Java is spelt Java, not JAVA.

Re: errors in transcript by Cedric Beust

And "Snowball"... seriously, guys.

Re: ? by Ahmet A. Akin

Mr Steele does not say anything because interviewer is asking all the wrong questions. Guy's baby is Fortress, and he keeps asking stuff he does not care much.

Re: errors in transcript by Paul Bennett

'Snowball, for example, to do string matching' ...

Yep, that should be 'Snobol'. But who under 35 would know what Snobol is .....?

Re: errors in transcript by Rakesh Kumar

I was about to point that out. looks like the interviewer is not aware of the SNOBOL. I would really hate to read Leesp or Skim.

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