Xah's Edu Corner: Under the spell of Leibniz's dream

X

Xah Lee

Dear computing comrades,

Today, i'd like to show you a piece of literature written by a eminent
mathematician Edsger W Dijkstra.

Here's 2 interesting quote from his letter:

“The prevaling attitude was reflected in the creation of two literary
figures — admittedly of rather poor literature, but nevertheless of
great paralyzing power —, viz. “the average programmer†and “the
casual userâ€. Up to these days, academic research in programming
methodology has been supposed to respect the severe intellectual
limitations of these fictitious morons: consequently any proposal that
required any further education of the programming person was out.â€

“... On the other hand we should be glad that the gospel of design by
derivation rather by trial and error is still preached.â€

I happened to read it today. And, i think in your busy schedule of
checking out slashdot and blogging and driveling with your excitement
and concerns about current fashions and trends with your fellow peers
and factions; It is good once in a while to read something
unfashionable and not for-dummies.

This letter of EWD is about 16 pages.

Is somewhat a quaint rant. The first half i find interesting but
without much sympathy, perhaps because the author is mostly talking
about the situation in the mid 1990s, of which, i'm unfamiliar and too
early a period to touch me personally. But the latter part of the
letter, i find much empathy and concurrence. In particular, his
remarks related to the formal methods.

(for you math illiterates out there: the “formal†here does not mean
the opposite of “informalâ€, as in “formal dress†vs “informal dressâ€.
Rather, “formal†here means “mathematical reasoning by symbol
manipulation; the ‘FORM’ in math FORMulasâ€. (for you mathematicians
out there: the root of the word “formal†as in “formal dress†and
“formalismâ€, actually are the same. They both refers to “form†as in a
empty shell, appearance.)) (So, when you “dress up formally†to attend
your friend's wedding or death ceremony, it literally means you are
putting on a appearance.)

Now, without further ado, the article is at:

“Under the spell of Leibniz's dream†(2000) By Edsger W Dijkstra
http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~EWD/ewd12xx/EWD1298.PDF

Xah
(e-mail address removed)
∑ http://xahlee.org/
 
R

Rob Warnock

+---------------
| > "Under the spell of Leibniz's dream" (2000) By Edsger W
| > Dijkstrahttp://www.cs.utexas.edu/~EWD/ewd12xx/EWD1298.PDF
|
| A link to a copy in a non-toxic format would be nice.
+---------------

Well, the fact of the matter is that the bulk of Dijkstra's
"EWD" papers were written *long* before the web existed, typed
on a favorite manual typewriter which he continued using for the
remainder of his professional life. <http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~EWD/>
has more details on the more than one thousand "EWD"s he wrote.
Until very recently, the *only* source for these documents was
either in hardback technical books (for the few that were published)
or in the PDF bitmaps of scans of the original manually-typed pages,
which the University of Texas at Austin has generously made [and
even after Dijkstra's death continues to make] available on-line.

However, a *few* but "growing number of the PDF bitmap documents
have been transcribed to make them searchable and accessible to
visitors who are visually impaired." If you would care to volunteer
[as over sixty others have done] to contribute to the transcriptions,
see <http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~EWD/transcriptions/invitation.html>.

Otherwise, just count your blessings that these gems are available
at all...


-Rob
 
I

Ingo Menger

(for you math illiterates out there: ...
(for you mathematicians out there: ...

Please, Xah Lee, could you possibly stop to "explain" things that are
absolutely trivial? If somebody has doubts about the etymology of a
word, he may use the dictionary, or he could ask.
 
C

Carsten Haese

Please, Xah Lee, could you possibly stop to "explain" things that are
absolutely trivial? If somebody has doubts about the etymology of a
word, he may use the dictionary, or he could ask.

And to underline your criticism, allow me to point out the irony:

"No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader's
intelligence, or whose attitude is patronizing." (From "The elements of
Style" by Strunk and White as quoted by Dijkstra in the very paper Xah
Lee pointed out to us.)
 
B

Bikal KC

Ingo said:
Please, Xah Lee, could you possibly stop to "explain" things that are
absolutely trivial? If somebody has doubts about the etymology of a
word, he may use the dictionary, or he could ask.

I used usenet years ago then stopped for couple of years. I remember
seeing him/her on c.l.perl I believe doing the same thing he/she is
doing atm. I'd say the ultimate usenet superstar. Wow!
 
M

Matthias Buelow

In comp.lang.lisp Bikal KC said:
I used usenet years ago then stopped for couple of years. I remember
seeing him/her on c.l.perl I believe doing the same thing he/she is
doing atm. I'd say the ultimate usenet superstar. Wow!

I think it's some (probably mild) form of autism.
No offense intended, Xah.
 
T

Twisted

I think it's some (probably mild) form of autism.
No offense intended, Xah.

Yeah, yeah, that's what they all say, especially when they do that
most-common of usenet things -- insult your mental health and tone it
as if it were a very compassionate and understanding suggestion to
seek medical treatment rather than the flame that it is. :p
 
S

Steve Holden

Twisted said:
Yeah, yeah, that's what they all say, especially when they do that
most-common of usenet things -- insult your mental health and tone it
as if it were a very compassionate and understanding suggestion to
seek medical treatment rather than the flame that it is. :p
It's already well-established that there's no point flaming Xah Lee, as
he's pretty much an output-only source. See any responses from him on
this thread?

regards
Steve
--
Steve Holden +1 571 484 6266 +1 800 494 3119
Holden Web LLC/Ltd http://www.holdenweb.com
Skype: holdenweb http://del.icio.us/steve.holden
--------------- Asciimercial ------------------
Get on the web: Blog, lens and tag the Internet
Many services currently offer free registration
----------- Thank You for Reading -------------
 
X

Xah Lee

2007-08-24

Steve Holden wrote:
«It's already well-established that there's no point flamingXahLee, as
he's pretty much an output-only source. See any responses from him on
this thread?»

Hum? so you want to dance?

FYI, i have made a second post to this thread. See:
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.lang.functional/msg/973fe835bd0ad230?dmode=source

The content is too abstruse for general imperative programers to
understand, so i limited it to only the functional programing groups.
But frankly, even there, very few are capable of appreciating it. To
be more frank, the majority of math PHD holders in this world today,
do not have sufficient knowledge about the subject to appreciate what
i wrote.

Xah
(e-mail address removed)
∑ http://xahlee.org/
 

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