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   Re: [xml-dev] Using The Principle of Least Power As A Razor

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Actually thinking about it, Rick Marshall's use of the term power
seems to follow that which is often used by boosters of specific
programming languages who claim that their language is more powerful
because of lack of verbosity or because of extensibility or because it
has concept X. For example: Lisp. However this does not follow the
principle of Least Power use of the term, which says that one should
use the less powerful language, whereas of course the arguers for Lisp
etc. argue that one should use the more powerful language - albeit
with a different meaning for power.

I have to admit that I don't like the succinctness = power argument,
(aside from its not being applicable in this situation), in that
programmers seem to make a number of terms synonymous with
succinctness (think of all the arguments for language beauty, notice
how often succinctness of syntax gets pulled out). If would be nice to
have different words mean different things, especially when specific
concepts can be usefully referred to by the word.

Also, while I do think them closely related, I don't think
succinctness = beauty in a programming language.

Bryan Rasmussen

On 2/16/06, bryan rasmussen <rasmussen.bryan@gmail.com> wrote:
> > 1. a is more powerful than b if it cannot be mapped directly to >machine code (ie compiled)
> Is the "it" in this sentence referring to a or b? Because it seems
> that it could not be referring to a, but in all your other examples it
> refers to a.
> The thing here is that, well
> 1. I would suppose anything that can be interpreted can theoretically
> be compiled, especially if we were to allow a source to source
> compilation (I know that you do not allow that but given that most
> source to source is to C and C can obviously be compiled it seems
> reasonable to me).
> 2. if you're just discussing languages that have actual compilers then
> you seem to mean that XSLT is more powerful than C. This is somewhat
> opposed to normal usage of the term power.
> > 2. a is more powerful than b if contains more concepts
> What if it contains different concepts?
> > 3. a is more powerful than b if it requires less typing
> huh.
> Okay, I would say as follows:
> 1. Any language that is not Turing Complete will not be more powerful
> than any language that is Turing Complete.
> 2. Turing completeness is generally not the most important aspect for
> determining power. What is more important is connection to the
> computing environment it is contained in.
> Connections to the computing environment is determined by inputs and outputs.
> 1. Determination of power for inputs would be a formula of the number
> of possible input streams callable from within the language multiplied
> by the number of possible input formats.
> 2. Determination of power for outputs would be a formula of the number
> of possible output streams generated from within the language
> multiplied by the number of possible output formats.
> 3. Can one from within the language do an output such a way that it
> feeds into an input, the example would be to open a port, send data
> out from the port, and read data in. How many various ways can these
> connections between outputs and inputs be managed.
> 4. Can processes of inputs and outputs be run parallel.
> These things can be used to determine relative disproportion of power
> between languages, and of course also when languages are relatively
> proportionate in power. I'm sure there could be other factors, but
> lets run with these for now.
> Outputs and input streams could be in reference to such things as:
> files from the filesystem, manipulation of various protocols, opening
> ports directly, connection to the underlying operating system.
> Output and input formats could be in reference to such things as
> encoding and so forth. Are formats normalized in some way before being
> passed to the program, or are they accessable in their raw state.
> XSLT 1.0 can be seen to have more powerful output possibilities than
> it has input possibilities where formats are concerned, otherwise
> less. I haven't determined which is more important.
> The rest of the factors mentioned earlier are not what would be
> considered as power, but ease of controlling the power.
> The principle of least power as I understand it is that one should use
> the less powerful language so as to limit the chance of screwing
> something up.
> Obviously using these factors Assembler and C are basically equally
> powerful, which goes along with the old saying that C gives you all
> the power of Assembler with all the ease of use of Assembler.
> Cheers,
> Bryan Rasmussen


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