Re: Operationalize orthogonality

From: Tony D <>
Date: 1 Jun 2006 06:03:01 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Pickie wrote:
> I ask because these seem to me to be basic concepts (or primitive types?)
> and both of them have simple ways to represent a boolean (zero and
> empty string respectively being false, all else true).

I didn't comment on this sentence before, and I'm surprised nobody else has either.

So far as I'm concerned, this sort of overloading of values is utterly shoddy. A number is a number, a string is a string and a boolean is a boolean. This sort of overloading is precisely the sort of nonsense enumerated types were invented to resolve. Say we had this sort of situation, in a Pascal-ish language :

   const Sunday = 0; Monday = 1; Tuesday = 2; Wednesday = 3;    const False = 0; True = 1;
   const Red = 0; Green = 1; Blue = 2;

   var who_knows_1, who_knows_2, who_knows_3 : integer


      who_knows_1 := Green * Tuesday;
      who_knows_2 := Blue + True;
      if (who_knows_1 * who_knows_2 > (Green+Blue*Wednesday)) then
         who_knows_3 := False
         who_knows_3 := True + Sunday;


Now, what on *earth* did any of that nonsense mean ? And don't say "but you'd never code like that". If you overload values that way, that's the way you're coding all the time. And the real killer is that nothing in the world will ever prevent you from writing tosh like that, and nothing will be able to help you as and when it all goes wrong. This is the sort of thing type transfer functions were invented for.

Really. The one really good thing Pascal brought us. Received on Thu Jun 01 2006 - 15:03:01 CEST

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