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Re: Bison function argument style

From: Paul Hilfinger
Subject: Re: Bison function argument style
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 13:04:09 -0800

> >The problem with using typeset math as a guide is that typesetters of
> >mathematical text do not generally use fixed-width roman text,
> Another funny thing with computer code is that older books often use
> variable width fonts. 

Yes they do, and I often found it difficult to read; it's a little
tricky to do right.  Xerox PARC technical reports from the 1970's used
variable-width fonts and italics, and program text in them looks just
awful (they didn't know about kerning).  Perhaps the move to
monospacing was in reaction.  Certainly, I have a hard time dealing
with variable-width fonts in typical program editors.  This is in
large part, I suspect, because of the lower resolution of displays vs.
paper. This again might be a reason for the move to monospacing.

> > and vanishingly few function applications
> >spread over more than one line in mathematical text.
> You have never seen any more complicated math formulas then? :-)

Complicated FORMULAE, yes, plenty of those.  Complicated FUNCTION
APPLICATIONS, many fewer.  When a function application gets that big,
one usually introduces some auxiliary notation to condense the arguments.

> My own little investigations of typical math syntaxes suggest that they are
> a great deal more sophisticated than what one has bothered to use in
> computer languages. It is possible to do computer language syntaxes that
> are much better by comparing to math syntax usage.

For the opposite point of view (i.e., mathematicians have a lot to
learn about notation for computer scientists), see the works of Edsger
Dijkstra and some of his followers, such as 

  A. J. M. van Gasteren: On the Shape of Mathematical Arguments. Springer 1990

I think Leslie Lamport has had something to say about proof, at least,
and possibly notation.


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