Structure Comparison (ADA vs C)

Jerry Leichter leichter at yale-com.UUCP
Thu Oct 13 00:52:20 AEST 1983

Since we seem to be descending to "proof by reference to authority" ("some
people with more experience in language design than anyone in this group
designed ADA, etc."), consider the following quote:

	...ADA.  This project has been initiated and sponsored by one of the
	worlds most powerful organizations....  Thus it is ensured on an
	influence and attention quite independent of it technical merits and
	its faults and deficiencies threaten us with far greater dangers.
	For none of the evidence we have so far can inspire confidence that
	this language has avoided any of the problems that have afflicted
	other complex language projects in the past.

	...The original objectives of the language included reliability,
	readability of programs, formality of language definition, and even
	simplicity.  Gradually these objectives have been sacrificed in favor
	of power, supposedly achieved by a plethora of features and notational
	conventions, many of them unnecessary and some of them, like exception
	handling, even dangerous.  We relive the history of the design of the
	motor car.  Gadgets and glitter prevail over fundamental concerns of
	safety and economy.

	...And so, the best of my advice to the originators and designers of
	ADA has been ignored.  In this last resort, I appeal to you, representa-
	tives of the programming profession in the United States, and citizens
	concerned with the welfare and safety of your own country and of man-
	kind:  Do not allow this language in its present state to be used in
	applications where reliability is critical, i.e., nuclear power sta-
	tions, cruise missiles, early warning systems, anti-ballistic missile
	defense systems....  An unreliable programming language generating unre-
	liable programs constitutes a far greater risk to our environment and
	to our society than unsafe cars, toxic pesticides, or accidents at
	nuclear power stations.  Be vigilant to reduce that risk, not to
	increase it.

>From "The Emperor's Old Clothes", C.A.R. Hoare's 1980 Turing Award Lecture
(CACM V24 #2 (Feb. 1981) page 75.
							-- Jerry
					decvax!yale-comix!leichter leichter at yale

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