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Re: if vs. when vs. and: style question

From: Pascal J. Bourguignon
Subject: Re: if vs. when vs. and: style question
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 2015 20:27:25 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

Rusi <> writes:

> And even Elisp!
> *** Welcome to IELM ***  Type (describe-mode) for help.
> ELISP> (setq α 1 β 2 γ 3)
> 3 (#o3, #x3, ?\C-c)
> ELISP> (list α β γ)
> (1 2 3)
> How much costly was that α to type than alpha?? One backslash!!
> Add to that the fact that programs are read
> - 10 times more than written during development
> - 100 times more during maintenance

This is a good point.  And the answer to it, is that mathematicians
habit of using extra alphabets, comes not from reading, but from
writing.  It's a kind of steno for mathematicians.  Also, it denotes a
lack of abstraction on their part.  Abstraction is the naming of
concepts.  They have to use a stenographical notation because they don't
give names to their concepts, so they have to write and rewrite again
and again the same formulae, hence the need for short notations.

This is not made for reading.  (And the work of Sussman clearly shows

What is α?  What is β?

Wouldn't have it been better to name those variables number-of-rows
or tree-height or some other words denoting their actual meaning?

__Pascal Bourguignon__       
“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a
dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to
keep the man from touching the equipment.” -- Carl Bass CEO Autodesk

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