[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

forgot to CC this

- - - - Begin forwarded message - - - -
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 1982 22:12:00 -0000
From: Guy.Steele at CMU-10A
To: Kim.fateman at UCB-C70
Subject:  Re: Another modest proposal
In-Reply-To:  Kim.fateman@Berkeley's message of 7 Sep 82 16:45-EST

While I am not unsympathetic to the desires to exploit case,
I am slightly unpersuaded by the arguments from mathematics.
The conventions that arose around mathematics may perhaps have
arisen from the need for brevity (not in itself a bad thing)
due to the necessity of hand transcription, because one didn't
have computers to help one manipulate formulas.  If you had to
a formula over thirty times as you simplified or otherwise dealt
with it, you would of course try to invent very consice symbols.
Also, mathematics has historically used adjacency to imply
multiplication in most contexts, ruling out multi-character
variables names.
APL is in a curious halfway poisition in this regard.  The user may have
multi-character names, but built-in functions, as a conventional
rule, may not!  Actually, they can, but all the characters must be
all written in one character position.  They ran out of pretty overstrikes
some time ago.  Recently, some APL implementations have burst forth
and provided system functions with multi-character names
beginning with the quad character.
If you only have one character, then mentioning all its
attrributes (case, boldness, hats and tildes, etc.) is not
so bad.  SUppose you use only five or six such attributes
in a very complex paper; then any name is at worst something
like "the vector capital A hat prime tilde".  But if a name
can be many characters long, having seperate attributes for
each character explodes the number of possibilities, making
it ridiculous, as KMP has observed, to try to speak them,
unless there is enough self-control to avoid using the
attributes after all.
You would go nuts if you tried to distinguish bold, italic, and
ordinary tildes and hats.
- - - - End forwarded message - - - -