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Journal of dc2000 (3250)

Wednesday January 08, 2003
07:19 PM

Perl: a small and orthogonal set of features

[ #9854 ]
Teachable languages should provide a small and orthogonal set of features.
Perl's grade: D

If you just ignored 80 % of Perl's fetures, perhaps you could grade it higher.
At least on this criterion.
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  • Damian (and Linda McIver, the co-author) point out that choosing a subset for a language does not raise its grade---indeed, it makes it worse.

    Although you can teach a subset of a language in complete isolation, the perl interpreter does not limit itself to that subset (at least not yet), and other books the students may consult may use a different subset. Since the best way to answer one's own questions, in my opinion, is to search Google Groups, the good students will run into things outside of the pedag
  • The problem with simple (or even on-simple) teachable languages is that they often fail miserably to satisfy the urge that 5-10% of students have to actually build something interesting.

    • The solution to this (very real) problem is, however, not to change or extend the teaching language. It's to allow that 5% (and you're fortunate if it's as high as 5%) to move on quickly to a more powerful language.

      For example, in a follow-up paper [] to Seven Deadly Sins... we propose a "zero'th" programming language that would only be used for a few weeks, or at most a month or two, prior to learning a first programming language.