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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I don't think the analogy with pure and applied physicists is correct. Working programmers aren't applied physicists: they're builders, or at most architects. Programming isn't a science, it's a trade, and I think what's missing here is some sort of degree (or other more vocational qualification depending on the educational system involved: I'm thinking of the sort of course that would once have been taught at English polytechnics) in Programming or Software Engineering, rather than Computer Science. Ideally the top level of this would lead to some sort of professional certification equivalent to the other branches of engineering (no doubt with the attendant requirement for vast amounts of tedious paperwork, but hey, that is actually the only way to make things work reliably in the end).

    The McProgrammers you mention are the equivalent of ordinary builders who know how to build a wall, or maybe a whole house, but don't have the higher-level knowledge of physics and (more importantly) engineering to design a large and complicated structure. There would be little point such a person trying to read a paper written by a physicist (pure or applied) and apply it to their day job: the research needs to be filtered through several layers of 'Engineer' before it can be useful to them.

    I suspect the root of the problem here is simply that CS as a discipline is so very young. Most of the physics used in (say) construction is several hundred years old, so we've had time to find out which bits are useful and how they apply to practical problems. In CS we keep trying to take pure research done approximately last week and use it in working programs right now.