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Attack of the One-Letter Programming Languages 127

snydeq writes: The programming world is fast proliferating with one-letter programming languages, many of which tackle specific problems in ways worthy of a cult following, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner in this somewhat tongue-in-cheek roundup of the more interesting entrants among this trend. "They're all a bit out there, with the possible exception of C. ... Each offers compelling ideas that could do the trick in solving a particular problem you need fixed.'"
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Attack of the One-Letter Programming Languages

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I google R stuff all the time and it is a pain in the ass. Google has gotten a lot better recently (or I've been lucky).

    • I google R stuff all the time and it is a pain in the ass. Google has gotten a lot better recently (or I've been lucky).

      Adding "lang" to the end helps. It's a trend for non-single-letter languages (hacklang, golang, etc) but seems to work for R & C too.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward


        Appropriate. Sounds like my head hitting the keyboard when I'm working in C.

        "JAVASCRIPTLANG" is a more guttural sound. Like I'm vomiting into the wastebasket in my cubicle. Also appropriate.

        +1 informative. I'll try that.. Wonder if "c#lang" works better than 'cpound'.

    • Just search stackoverflow.com with the tag [r].

      http://stackoverflow.com/quest... [stackoverflow.com]

      • Which at least helps with finding things about R, but doesn't help with the fact R is an enormous pain in the ass if you learned to use it from the kind of person that still thinks like they're using SPSS or STATA.

        • I thought the whole point of SPSS was that you didn't have to think?
        • Concur that my initial Googling for R topics was sometimes frustrating. But lately I've had little difficulty. Stackoverflow or the R mailing list archive are usually the top results. Not sure if I've adjusted or what.

          My experience is that if you have any experience programming, R makes far more sense than other common packages, like Stata or SPSS. After all, it's an actual programming language. My biggest adjustment was learning how to not use loops.

          Don't even get me started on SAS.

          • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

            Agreed. But my biggest adjustment was learning how to read code that I wrote 3 months ago not using loops.

          • See the problem with R is that a lot of departments requiring it aren't teaching it as a programming language, they're trying to teach it like it's SPSS with a command line. Nobody ever learns what's actually going on under the hood or how to actually manipulate the data, they just know that hitting buttons in the right order SHOULD make it do a regression.

    • Agreed. It's worse than looking for The Who (which Google, btw, finally realized can be more than two words to be omitted from a search because they're too common).

      With C you at least have C++ (also something Google realized is a search term that people might want to look for), but R (and S) are very obviously not interesting enough for enough people to warrant some kind of preferential treatment.

      • (which Google, btw, finally realized can be more than two words to be omitted from a search because they're too common)

        Yeah, in the early days multiple words were just an AND keyword search. I think that changed over 6-7 years ago, though.

      • Google desperately needs a "yes, just like I typed it" button. It also needs a way to exclude the almost entirely pointless "this page links to another page with your keywords in it" results. It also needs a way to detect that the search terms no longer appear in the linked page because it's a dynamically generated page and... do the PhDs at Google know what "dynamic" means?

        In short, Google has lots of weaknesses in something that's supposed to be its core competency. We just need the right start-up to d

        • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

          Google desperately needs a "yes, just like I typed it" button.

          Use double quotes around words or phrases you want "as typed."

          • I'm thinking of the opposite problem--Google's too smart for your own good parsing.

            It's been a while since I googled my own userid. The last time I did that Google seemed very intent on parsing it out. It was returning all the "i started" links and it was a PiTA to get rid of them. Of course since I've said that, I just tried and it wasn't as bad as I recalled.

        • by kat_skan ( 5219 )
          You can add a search engine to your browser for verbatim search:

    • Use a plus sign in front of the yerm you want to require. For example, search for "iteration +R"

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      I never have problems with "R statistical"

    • Yeah, I generally google for "CRAN R" or "bioconductor R" to narrow down the field a bit.

      Or you could just skim StackOverflow for the "R" tag.

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2014 @01:52AM (#48455247) Homepage Journal
    It is Winter after all
  • Only SJWs are allowed to contribute to free software.

    http://slashdot.org/submission... [slashdot.org]

  • it's "tongue-in-cheek", not "tongue-and-check".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Allow me to play doubles advocate here for a moment. For all intensive purposes I think you are wrong. In an age where false morals are a diamond dozen, true virtues are a blessing in the skies. We often put our false morality on a petal stool like a bunch of pre-Madonnas, but you all seem to be taking something very valuable for granite. So I ask of you to mustard up all the strength you can because it is a doggy dog world out there. Although there is some merit to what you are saying it seems like you hav
  • Although one letter language names have issues for search (as do other generic terms, or other stupid names like .Net), the only useful point is that some programmers like to use less-popular languages and may introduce them into your codebase confusing other developers. Of course you can hire more developers that speak the obscure language in your shop if it is otherwise well-known.

    Of course, we already know about that problem. It matters not if the obscure language (for your shop) happens to be R, F#, awk

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      For any new language, adoption is a problem. Interesting languages like Eiffel, Smalltalk, etc. never really made the big-time and never will.

      The reason is simple: Most of today's programmers are not very good at their job. They just do not get what makes these languages impressive and exceptionally effective. As soon as programming is recognized as a very demanding engineering task that actually requires the best and brightest (and that using them pays off handsomely), this will change. Of course, that realization may never materialize.

    • That idea kind of wrong, too. For maintenance tasks, more than once I've sat down and fixed code without ever having seen the language before, sometimes without bothering to check which language it is. A decent programmer isn't going to have to much trouble maintaining any reasonable language. For example, a fence post error is a fence post error in any language, and the fix is always the same - use the value one less.

  • I guess I could type more for my subject, but when the subject is one-letter languages, get off my case, eh?

    If I understood more math, I'd enjoy using J, the "normal keyboard" version of APL

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

    • Yeah, as if APL wasn't cryptic enough, the J designers had to translate its pictographic character set into Multi-character ASCII gibberish.
    • I've always wanted to spend some time with APL but the learning curve was steep enough that I've never been able to block out sufficient time to make it worth starting.

  • one letter (Score:2, Insightful)

    "Each offers compelling ideas that could do the trick in solving a particular problem you need fixed"

    except the most byzantine one-letter language: C++

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2014 @03:31AM (#48455633)
    The article is shallow and dumb. It does not even mention the inventor of APL [wikipedia.org], Ken Iverson [wikipedia.org], even though two of the languages in the article are based on APL.

    APL was not invented by IBM to be terse. It was invented by Iverson as a notation to describe array operations, and he published a book about it before he went to IBM.

    This is just lazy journalism. The guy who wrote it got a stupiod idea, spent insufficient time doing research, wrote something trivial in even less time and screwed up his facts.

    He gets an "I" for idiot.

    • I swear, the "articles" are getting more idiotic every year. This stuff is of the level you'd expect on one of those 'Top x About y' sites.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's because it's exactly what you're meant to read. The tech equivalent of Cracked. "5 Reasons Why SystemD Causes Cancer," "4 Ways that (VI or EMACS) is better than (VI or EMACS)," ad nauseam.

        Editors at Slashdot have two jobs. One is to post the articles they're paid to post (i.e. all of those blatant product placement articles we've been seeing for years, long before DICE). The other job is to post things that you're likely to click on, since the likelihood of you clicking a link is what they're selling

    • APL would be strictly a zero-letter programming language, right? A language which shall not be named? Just "a programming language".

    • The terseness of APL was a HUGE advantage for interactive programming when baud rates were, like 135. And I loved that its keyboard actually had real multiply and divide symbols rather than co-opting the asterisk and slash. The pictographic character set visually reflected the operations in many cases. It's decendant J, unfortunately sports none of those advantages and programs look like they are displayed on a terminal with its baud rate set wrong.
    • If you had read and then comprehended the very first paragraph, you would have quickly realized this article's target audience does not include you or anybody else here on this board.

  • If only it were free.

    • If only it were free.

      Aren't there GCC and LLVM D compilers now?

    • If only it were free.

      Unfortunately while it isn't bad, it doesn't have any real killer features that would make you bother with it compared to C++. I like to play with it, but I wouldn't risk using it for anything serious.

      • Unfortunately while it isn't bad, it doesn't have any real killer features that would make you bother with it compared to C++. I like to play with it, but I wouldn't risk using it for anything serious.

        Pretty much this. It's like C++ on steroids with much better templating, and while it seems much nicer, there's not all that much it makes vastly better. Also, there was a version 1 which is now deprecated and now a version 2. the nice thing about C++ is the standards body try really REALLY hard to not break a

  • Here I was wondering how to program with one letter where even Brainfuck needs several.

    • Unary representation of your program's Gödel number. You can code in one letter, but your program may get pretty long.

      • That's not one letter, that's multiple uses of the same letter. What you really need is a language of finite size and a really big alphabet.

  • ... were a bit pain for writing machine learning code. R simplified it, but only to an extent where the file size wasn't too big. Java and C# still provide the best solution when it comes to solving big data problems. Also, Hive / Pig is the best one to work on distributed clusters.
  • What's more fun ?

    1) Hello World! Today I publish a shiny new programming language that is better at XYZ compared to anything out there. Joint me and contribute.

    2) Hello mailing list, this is the patches set version 18 of my 3 years effort trying to integrate the XYZ feature into the project. I hope this version address all the remaining complains about it.

    3) Dear Steering Committee F.0x55/C-75, please find in attachment the version 24 of the 137 pages document "Proposal for adding feature XYZ" to the agenda

    • I hope this version address all the remaining complains about it.

      I'd like to file a bug report. You misspelled "complaints". I look forward to seeing this issue fixed in your next patch set. ;)

      In all seriousness, it's a good point. But.. but... shiny.. fancy.. squirrel!

  • There can only be 26 of them if we use the English Alphabet.

  • by clickety6 ( 141178 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2014 @10:13AM (#48457381)
    Hah! Still stcuk using one letter lanaguages, hey?
    Personally, I use (unpronounceable squiggly symbol) - the price of programming languages. Pain in the arse to google though.
  • "E" is a pretty respectable language in the Pascal family(IIRC) that has it's home on the Amiga.See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

    And as comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody, Wikipedia already there links to two other languages called "E".

  • I thought "one letter programming language" would refer to the syntax, not the marketing name of the language.

    what can keep me from ever having to type out the entire word "while" again?

  • Just another InfoWorld post by the user snydeq [slashdot.org].

  • The premise of the article is just weird - an article about programming languages with single letter names makes about as much sense as an article about operating systems with blue logos. That D is compared to C instead of C++ further demonstrates the author's cluelessness. (Many D programmers regard D as an improved, non-backward compatible version of C++.)

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead