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

Re: I. M. John W. Backus

From: paul c <toledobythesea_at_oohay.ac>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 00:53:39 GMT
Message-ID: <nskMh.48929$zU1.42079@pd7urf1no>


Bob Badour wrote:
> 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.)

Doesn't matter, but I didn't even know he was the Fortran guy. Freely admit I was never any good at Fortran. That's not because I was smart rather that I didn't know anything (lucky me) at the time. Don't know when BNF came out and even though I'm both an accused and admitted language philistine, I welcomed the precision.

p Received on Wed Mar 21 2007 - 19:53:39 CDT

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