Interesting Language Rant

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Tue Jan 8 10:30:08 MST 2008


On Jan 8, 2008 10:15 AM, Steve <smorrey at gmail.com> wrote:
> What would be the practical implications of learning a language such as Ada?

The practical implication of learning Ada would be that you'd know
Ada.  From what I understand, there are still a lot of government
contract jobs for Ada programming, doing stuff like aircraft avionics
and the like.  I imagine it's a very different development environment
than most of us are used to.  It's also used elsewhere in the embedded
industry, especially where safety is a large concern, since safety and
correctness are what it emphasizes.  If you learned it well, you could
probably get a job writing in it, though some EE background would
probably help as well.

> I've wanted to learn some of these more obscure languages for well
> over a decade, but you'ld be hard pressed to a find a book that
> teaches application development in Lisp, Ada, COBOL, Fortran, or
> pretty much any language which predates ANSI C.

I haven't had any trouble finding resources to learn Common Lisp or
Scheme.  There are great books available for free online.  For Common
Lisp, here is a non-exhaustive list:
http://gigamonkeys.com/book/
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/LispBook/
http://www.paulgraham.com/onlisp.html

Here are some for Scheme:
http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/dorai/t-y-scheme/t-y-scheme.html
http://www.scheme.com/tspl2d/
http://www.htdp.org/
http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/

And for Ada:
http://adapower.com/index.php?Command=Class&ClassID=BooksOnLine&Title=Ada+Books+On-Line

For Forth:
http://www.forth.com/starting-forth/
http://thinking-forth.sourceforge.net/

Fortran:
http://www.freeprogrammingresources.com/fortranbook.html

Basically, google "<language name> book" and click some links.  If you
need hardcopies, those that have been published and aren't too long
out of print should have copies available through online used
bookstores.  Otherwise, see your favorite print/copy shop.

> I would LOVE to learn these languages, but alas the only one I've had
> any success with is LISP and thats only because AutoCAD still uses it
> and there were a ton of example applications to learn from, even then
> though they were limited to the AutoCAD dialect of LISP which I
> understand isn't really LISP either.  Even with that said, I am still
> a complete noob with LISP.

>From what I understand, AutoCAD's version of Lisp is a particular weak
one, as far as Lispiness goes.  Better to learn Common Lisp or Scheme
if you want to write real programs.  And yes, you can write real
programs with either of them. :P

        --Levi



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