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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: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 01:31:55 GMT
Message-ID: <f0lMh.13414$PV3.138621@ursa-nb00s0.nbnet.nb.ca>


paul c wrote:

> 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.

They invented the notation so they could formally describe Algol-60. Received on Wed Mar 21 2007 - 20:31:55 CDT

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