Academics slam Java

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Fri Jan 11 18:14:24 MST 2008


On Jan 11, 2008 4:00 PM, Bryan Sant <bryan.sant at gmail.com> wrote:

> Java happens to be the king in the private sector and academia, so
> it's the standard that most measure against.  I get it.  But virtually
> all high-level languages share the same attributes that supposedly
> make Java a bad language to teach students with.
>
> It's hard for me to not notice the agenda these Ada moguls obviously
> have.  They have a huge stake in the Ada game and they're just doing a
> little self-promotion.

I think you're misinterpreting their different perspective as an
'agenda'.  You'll notice that the article was published in "Crosstalk:
The Journal of Defense Software Engineering" and that they are both
professors and affiliated with AdaCore.  If you look at AdaCore's site
and find their customer list
<http://www.adacore.com/home/gnatpro/gp-customers>, you'll see that
it's a very different set of companies than the ones who are hiring
Java programmers to fulfill business needs.

Perhaps they know a little bit more about how well Java-centric
curricula prepare people for that particular industry than you do?
You'll notice that they measure the effect of Java based on the
students' performance in systems and architecture courses, which are
precisely the ones that are important for the sort of programming
their industry is involved in.  Presumably the Java-trained students
will be reasonably good at taking advantage of the Java libraries to
solve business needs, but will be completely lost if you ask them to
design a device driver or implement the logic to control an embedded
controller in an aircraft.

>
> > In a withering attack on those responsible for setting the curriculum
> > for computer science courses, doctors Robert Dewar and Edmond
> > Schonberg of New York University (and principals of Ada language
> > specialist Adacore) have said the lack of mathematical rigor and
> > formal techniques is producing "replaceable professionals" more suited
> > to the outsourcing industry than software development.
>

This has been significantly rearranged from the original, which says:
  The resulting set of skills is insufficient for today's software industry
  (in particular for safety and security purposes) and, unfortunately,
  matches well what the outsourcing industry can offer. We are training
  easily replaceable professionals.

Given the real quote, I don't think your rebuttal below applies:

> If this argument were true then the number of job postings in the USA
> for Java developers would be near zero.  Why would you pay top dollar
> for expensive American Java (or C#, Python, Perl, Ruby, etc) talent if
> persons using said language were merely replaceable robot developers?
> The fact is that the problems that a developer solves with software
> are usually hard.  Automating solutions to hard problems with software
> (regardless of language) is valuable.  If I can solve a problem for a
> company with C# and its many pre-existing components, then I am many
> times more valuable than a person who can't solve the company's
> problem with C or Ada.

The thing is, anyone who knows the Java libraries well and can string
them together adeptly can take one of those jobs.  There are a lot of
them in the business software world, which is, frankly, not full of as
many hard problems as you say.  That's why they choose Java; it's easy
to replace developers.

If you want to talk about hard problems, try building optimizing
compilers, real-time operating systems, inertial navigation systems,
avionics, etc. for systems that cannot have serious flaws.  Those are
the kind of problems these guys are dealing with and having a hard
time finding qualified candidates for.

        --Levi



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