theory vs practice ceases power

Discussion in 'Perl Misc' started by Xah Lee, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. Xah Lee

    Xah Lee Guest

    i'm posting the following in hope that "theory vs practice" can cease
    its misleading power.

    from
    http://www.xahlee.org/UnixResource_dir/writ/theory_practice.html

    (Randal L. Schwartz) quoted:
    | The difference between theory and practice in theory is much less
    | than the difference between theory and practice in practice.

    Popular quotes have attributes of equivocal interpretation and
    theatrical display. When interpreted and pondered by the wise, it
    lights up a wisdom, but dullards quote them equally, and delight in
    their drama. (the latter happens a lot in Perl and unix communities.)

    From American Heritage Dictionary:
    theory n. pl. theories
    1. a. Systematically organized knowledge applicable in a relatively
    wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions,
    accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze,
    predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified
    set of phenomena. b. Such knowledge or such a system. 2. Abstract
    reasoning; speculation. 3. A belief that guides action or assists
    comprehension or judgment: rose early, on the theory that morning
    efforts are best; the modern architectural theory that less is
    more. 4. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a
    conjecture.

    The word 'theory', in practice, has more meanings than in theory.

    For example, in the above usage, 'theory' is used twice. In the first
    instance, it is used for a purpose but not for its meaning. It is part
    of a construction in a language that discuss the language itself. In
    theory it does not come up, but in practice it does all the time. In
    practice, we can say that the first instance of usage of the word
    'theory' has no meaning given the context. In the second appearance of
    the word, it has myriad of interpretations due to the construction of
    the phrase.

    People may mean: "The word 'theory', in practice, has more meanings
    than people would think." Here the word is thus used conveniently to
    stand for "mob's knowledge".

    From a logical linguist's mouth, the intent might be: "The word
    'theory', outside academia, acquire more meanings and purposes than we
    require in linguistics." The sensibility of such semantic content is
    demonstrated in the previous paragraph.

    People may say: "in theory, tomorrow'll rain." They really mean "the
    broadcast station lady said that tomorrow will rain."

    A detective might say, "in theory, that guy is the murderer.". He
    really means: "according to my investigations, it is highly probably
    that that guy is the murderer.". (dictionary definition #4.)

    In a strict sense, 'theory' means systematic and organized principles
    derived by scientific means (dictionary definition #1.). In a more
    strict mathematical sense, 'theory' is the body of theorems, and
    theorem by definition describes practices correctly always, else it is
    not a theorem. It is possible for a mathematical theorem to be
    incorrect (we are humans, after all), but in practice to assume that
    theorems can be incorrect is like assuming one might be hit by a
    meteor tomorrow. Theoretically correct, but not sensible.

    As you can see, the word 'theory' is subject to wanton abuses. In
    fact, all English words are subject to extraneous purposes to yield
    sentences or paragraphs that has a meaningful ambiguous
    interpretation. (this is how poetry works, in theory.) All in all,
    English is extremely malleable and ambiguous. The phrase "The word
    'theory', in practice, has more meanings than in theory" is really
    silly, except in really well-defined context. In our context, the
    quote amounts to illustrating the stupidity of Perlers who don't have
    a solid background in logic or linguistics, but like to quote about
    differences of theory vs. practice.

    Larry Wall likes to mention how he had a linguistics background, and
    how he utilized the (good) human qualities of English to create
    Perl. To the Perl folks of beady eyes, they are sold a grand advance
    in computer science, but to discerning eyes, it's artful garbage.

    Sorry i don't have time to address the above points of Wall's, but
    this will definitely be another lesson for you folks down the road.

    The perl folks with their beads of little eyes, cannot see beyond
    imperative languages.

    Xah

    http://xahlee.org/PageTwo_dir/more.html
    Xah Lee, Jul 22, 2003
    #1
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  2. Xah Lee

    Xaonon Guest

    Ned i bach <>, Xah Lee
    <> teithant i thiw hin:

    > Larry Wall likes to mention how he had a linguistics background, and
    > how he utilized the (good) human qualities of English to create
    > Perl. To the Perl folks of beady eyes, they are sold a grand advance
    > in computer science, but to discerning eyes, it's artful garbage.


    Bull. Perl is easy to program in, highly flexible and useful for a large
    range of applications. Do you believe in results?

    --
    Xaonon, EAC Chief of Mad Scientists and informal BAAWA, aa #1821, Kibo #: 1
    Visit The Nexus Of All Coolness (i.e. my site) at http://xaonon.dyndns.org/
    "Since I do things on a regular basis that defies the laws of physics, I can
    speak with some authority on the matter." -- , in alt.atheism
    Xaonon, Jul 22, 2003
    #2
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