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   Re: Various presentations, schema concepts, etc.

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  • From: Lars Marius Garshol <larsga@garshol.priv.no>
  • To: <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: 05 Jul 2000 10:27:38 +0200

| I am not so sure that functional programming is so bad: SQL is
| basically a functional language is it not?

No, like Matt said, SQL is declarative.

The best-known functional programming languages at the moment are
probably Standard ML and Haskell.
| I suspect that the problem with functional programming is that it
| changes the boundaries between what is hard and what is
| straightforward too much.

Personally, I think the problem is much simpler. It is not hyped and
it requires people to change their way of thinking. Seeing how hard it
is for programming languages with a non-C syntax (but similar concepts)
to make it the outlook is not good for functional programming.

Hype might change that, but there has been precious little of it so far.

| 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.

I see this as an argument for Lisp.  XSLT with a Lisp-based syntax and
proper integration with Lisp as a programming language would be an
awesome XML processing tool.  Performance would probably also be much
better than with the current Java-based systems.

For example, an RSS->HTML stylesheet fragment (forgetting namespaces
for now):

  (template item
    (li nil 
      (a (href (xpath link))
         (xpath title))
      (xpath description)))

| 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):

I think this may very well be true.  As Richard Gabriel observed, it
seems that programmers tend to favour languages that do not require
abstractions.  And I think he was very likely right that abstractions
are not the answer to everything.

--Lars M.

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