Tuesday, May 12, 2015


I was a terrible teacher. All my interest was in teaching those secondary-modern kids maths. This was not, however, their interest; they needed a lion-tamer, not an intellectual. After my Head of Department's nervous breakdown I headed off. The Civil Service seemed uninterested in hiring a member of the International Marxist Group; KBS Computer Services was less picky and so I became a COBOL programmer.

They say COBOL damages the brain - but I speak as a survivor. After some years of commercial programming I made my escape into a research environment (STL) and programmed in the world's best language, LISP.

Alex is a Java developer and has been doing an assessment of various programming and scripting languages. He treats LISP with the utmost disdain, a response I consider unfathomable. To mention the lambda calculus would go right over his head - 'how many transactions per second?' would be his mindset.

I am thinking of playing around with Prolog. Its power and economy are legendary, and there's a neat online guide to writing expert systems in the language. In the past I struggled to conceptualise its depth-first, backtracking execution model. With LISP I could generally figure out what a succinct program was going to do; with Prolog, not so much. But this could change - there is a powerful free system, SWI Prolog to play with.

I have ordered a book which I will use to torment Alex. Sheer professional pride will surely force him to master the unification algorithm and resolution refutation in Horn clauses before the inevitable rejection of the language*.


* I don't mind the technical nitpicking - execution speed and memory management, etc; it's the moral disapproval - like 'what kind of idiot would you have to be to prefer this to Java?'

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