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Home -> Community -> Usenet -> comp.databases.theory -> Re: I. M. John W. Backus

Re: I. M. John W. Backus

From: Bob Badour <bbadour_at_pei.sympatico.ca>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 23:57:06 GMT
Message-ID: <mDjMh.13375$PV3.138160@ursa-nb00s0.nbnet.nb.ca>


paul c wrote:

> mAsterdam wrote:
>

>> mAsterdam wrote:
>>
>>> Marshall wrote:
>>>
>>>> ...when did formal methods for describing programming languages
>>>> really get started? 
>>
>>> Wikipedia mentions 1956 ( 
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chomsky_hierarchy )
>>>  - and 1959 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backus-Naur_form ) ...
>>
>> Sadly, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/business/20backus.html

>
> No idea how big what he did will turn out to be, but comparing it to the
> IT mumbo-jumbo that increases every day, he should go down as a worthy
> traveller.

It's odd that the obit got things so wrong. Fortran is a monstrosity -- one of those abominable things that was just good enough. It's greatest achievement was to show how not to write a compiler. Backus more than redeemed himself a few years later by learning from fortran how to write a compiler when he and Peter Naur came up with BNF.

Fortran should be a side-note to BNF and not vice versa.

(BNF is a very big contribution--more than enough to share.) Received on Wed Mar 21 2007 - 18:57:06 CDT

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