RE: PROJ: Flare

From: Miriam English (
Date: Wed Jul 18 2001 - 04:30:46 MDT

At 02:03 AM 18/07/2001 -0700, Reason wrote:

>[XML, Lisp, Flare stuff from Samantha and Eliezer snipped]
>I have to throw in my 2c here; at this present time in the evolution of
>computer languages, I'd say there really are only two choices in the
>fundament of a self-modifying piece of code if you want the language to work
>with you and save you time by its very structure. 1) would be Forth, and 2)
>would be XML.

Wow! Forth! You remember Forth?!?! That is an incredible language. I could
wax on about its amazing capabilities for ages. It is absolutely tiny,
extremely fast, and lets you define everything as words in a dictionary. It
was originally developed by Charles Moore (I think) to control telescopes.
He needed something simple and easy to use. He also went on to design and
build some wonderfully simple, extremely fast, parallel-processing CPUs
that used Forth as their assembly language. In fact they were basically
gate arrays, they were so simple. I don't know if they are available anymore.

Maybe the main reason why many people resist using Forth is the reverse
polish notation (anybody who has used an HP calculator will have no
problems). But that does abolish parentheses and problems of precedence in
evaluation. It just feels a bit unnatural for humans... at first.

Another possible cause for the fact that it never took off in a big way is
that each person builds up their own dictionary of definitions upon the
standard base definitions. Naturally different people's definitions are not
necessarily interoperable -- they need to use someone else's user
dictionary... which is not always convenient. This is kinda a babel effect.

>Forth is used by the NSA and maybe ten to twenty companies worth knowing.

Gosh! I didn't know that.

>[Deep dark secret: runs on Forth. You didn't hear it from me.
>There's an 8-bit JVM written in Forth for mobile phones too -- now that's
>pretty twisted if you actually know Forth. Forth is pretty cool and very
>easy to pick up...but no-one uses it. A big useful feature is that you can
>alter and recompile any and all portions of code while the code is running.

Yes. It is a weird combination of interpreted and compiled language. :-)

>But enough about Forth. I had a misspent youth, I admit it.

Heheheh. Me too. :-)


         - Miriam

Q. What is the similarity between an elephant and a grape?
A. They are both purple... except for the elephant.
Virtual Reality Association

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