Computer Languages

Right now I’m going over an Introduction to Python for CS63, Artificial Intelligence.

I don’t know why this hasn’t hit me before, but once you learn one high-level computer language, it becomes significantly easier to learn new ones. I suppose that this has something to do with the formality of such languages. They’re all rooted in mathematics and boolean logic, so those concepts can’t vary too much across languages. Concepts like loops, conditionals, functions, and the like are pretty much universal. It really becomes a matter of learning the various keywords and special characters that each language uses.

As far as selecting a programming language for a project, you just need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each, how easy they are to apply in a given situation, etc. Obviously, I’ll use JavaScript if I need to do something online, although I avoid it on principle. I’ve seen the evil it can spawn, and I want no part of it ;o). As far as computer programs are concerned, I’ll probably use C by default. If I’m going to be doing any text processing, or running commands on the system, I’ll go with perl, since it has such a robust regexp implementation. If I really really need a good object system, I might use Java. I doubt that I would use Scheme or Python for anything outside of CS classwork, but that may change. Scheme has too many parentheses for my liking, and Python is sensitive to whitespace, which is just plain wrong.

Anyway, I think that’s enough procrastinating for now. I promise I’ll post at some point about my first week in Gaithersburg, MD outside of DC. For the moment, I’ll say that missing a week of classes, even the first one, is never a good idea. I’m all caught up now, and it wasn’t too bad, but I felt a bit lost in AI having missed a class and a lab period. E25 was all review, and my other two courses stuck with intro stuff.

I’m signing off now. Really.

And The Tide Rushes In” from Question Of Balance by The Moody Blues


3 responses to “Computer Languages”

  1. Yeah, I’ve been wondering about that “absent the first week of classes” thing. It sounded like you were at some conference that Swat (or some part of it, like Bruce) sent you to…. With all due respect, what were they thinking? :-)

  2. Personally, I find that I use Perl for just about everything, since it can _do_ just about everything, and I find it easier to keep up my expertise in just one language. Of course, when I do have to use another, the similarities make it much easier. I’m not sure how much most other high-level languages would help in learning something like Scheme, or vice-versa, though — the paradigms are just so different, and even simple functions work completely differently.

    (Last year, using Python in Robotics, I found that it actually grew on me a bit once I stopped attempting to use ‘Learning Python’. Since I like my code to be nicely indented anyway, for readability, the whitespace isn’t such a hassle, and finding a misindented statement isn’t any harder, and may be easier, than finding a missing semicolon. Still, it has some very annoying deficiencies.)

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