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[Axiom-developer] Re: bootstrap Meta/Boot

From: M. Edward (Ed) Borasky
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Re: bootstrap Meta/Boot
Date: Thu, 09 Aug 2007 22:29:21 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070807 SeaMonkey/1.1.4

address@hidden wrote:
>> But does it really need so many sub-languages?
> Well, that's a religious question.
> Some on the wailing list feel that Meta and Boot should be recovered,
> made strongly typed, and closer to the algebra language.  On the plus
> side it will be claimed that these are "higher level" (or could be
> made into higher level since they are really just syntactic sugar).
> On the minus side Meta and Boot are languages with 3 people who read
> them and no-one who writes them.

Oh ... OK ... Aldor, SPAD, Boot *and* Meta ... yet another language. :)

> Yet others would like a single language like Aldor that implements
> everything. On the plus side this would mean that there is only one
> language to learn, which is reasonable. On the minus side this is a
> huge task, involving reimplementing the interpreter, the compiler, the
> databases, the algebra, and other machinery.

And of course there is the "Aldor is a great language but it still has
some non-freedoms attached" argument. I would think getting a
free-as-in-freedom Aldor would be an easier job than a
free-as-in-freedom Java, but, hey, Java happened!

> Then there is the common lisp internals, spad externals, crowd. On the
> minus side the claim is made that lisp is an "assembly language".  On
> the plus side, well, its lisp. You can't get any higher level language.  
> Either you get it or you don't.
> I firmly believe that the internals should be in common lisp. It
> already is common lisp modulo some "syntactic sugar" (e.g. current
> boot). Over the years I've been slowly removing this sugar and using
> only common lisp.
> It hardly matters. The "new world" allows everyone to do whatever
> suits their mood by creating their own branch. This will eventually
> undermine the whole effort rendering the language debate mute.

It may allow arbitrary branches/forks, but the odds of any of them
creating a successful project are small. You pretty much have to be a
mathematician to *use* Axiom, unlike Derive, which a bright high-school
student can use out of the box. Maxima is a little harder to use, but
the wxMaxima GUI is pretty easy and "Derive-like".

Speaking of Derive, perhaps it's worthy of note that the original
versions of Derive were written using an underlying implementation that
was "Lisp-like" but had some real fundamental semantic differences from
Lisp. I've forgotten the details, but eventually the developers were
forced to rewrite it in Lisp, and indeed, to build their own Lisp on the
8086/DOS/DOS Extenders platform as well.

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