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   Re: Various presentations, schema concepts, etc.

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  • From: Rick JELLIFFE <ricko@geotempo.com>
  • Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000 19:05:08 +0800

Matt Sergeant wrote:
> I'm not convinced its really the next wave though - like
> functional programming its just too hard to grok for non comp sci people
> (and there are a lot of them in this field who are going to need to be
> able to work with us).
I am not so sure that functional programming is so bad: SQL is basically
a functional language is it not?  

I suspect that the problem with functional programming is that it
changes the boundaries between what is hard and what is straightforward
too much.  XSLT's approach of allowing extensions (cheating) on a small
and targetted application domain seems to be pretty acceptable--it
forces you to use a different tool to solve the problems which (the
kinds of FP used in) XSLT is not great at.

Dr John Reekie, who co-wrote the RISP SGML processor with me in the late
80s, later went on to study functional programming (graphical tools for
DSP compilation) before ending up at UCB for TCL work. I remember his
suggestion, after working with functional programming techiques (and
liking them very much) was that  perhaps they require a too high level
of abstraction for typical programmer (typically trained programmers?),
compared to procedural code (we are used to assignment): he thought that
mediating the functions through a GUI might make FP more attractive.
But, of course, functional programming may find in the large and regular
data structures of XML documents data which is well-suited to be treated
as the input and output of functions. A new application area may cause a
resurgence in uses of functional programming (in the same way that XML
may cause a coarse-grained resurgence of data-flow architectures).

Rick Jelliffe

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