2010-10-14

list comprehension the jargon

On Sep 29, 11:02 am, namekuseijin wrote:
> On 28 set, 19:38, Xah Lee wrote:
>
> > • “list comprehension” is a very bad jargon; thus harmful to
> > functional programing or programing in general. Being a bad jargon, it
> > encourage mis-communication, mis-understanding.
>
> I disagree:  it is a quite intuitive term to describe what the
> expression does.

what's your basis in saying that “list comprehension” is intuitive?

any statics, survery, research, references you have to cite?

to put this in context, are you saying that lambda, is also intuitive? “let” is intuitive? “for” is intuitive? “when” is intuitive? I mean, give your evaluation of some common computer language termilogies, and tell us which you think are good and which are bad, so we have some context to judge your claim.

For example, let us know, in your view, how good are terms: currying, lisp1 lisp2, tail recursion, closure, subroutine, command, object. Or, perhaps expound on the comparative merits and meaning on the terms module vs package vs add-on vs library. I would like to see your view on this with at least few paragraphs of analysis on each. If you, say, write a essay that's at least 1k words on this topic, then we all can make some judgement of your familiarity and understanding in this area.

Also, “being intuitive” is not the only aspect to consider whether a term is good or bad. For example, emacs's uses the term “frame”. It's quite intuitive, because frame is a common english word, everyone understands. You know, door frame, window frame, picture frame, are all analogous to emacs's “frame” on a computer. However, by some turn of history, in computer software we call such as “window” now, and by happance the term “window” also has a technical meaning in emacs, what we call “split window” or “pane” today. So, in emacs, the term “frame” and “window” is confusing, because emacs's “frame” is what we call “window”, while emacs's “window” is what me might call a pane of a split window. So here, is a example, that even when a term is intuitive, it can still be bad.

as another example, common understanding by the target group the term is to be used is also a important aspect. For example, the term “lambda”, which is a name of greek char, does not convey well what we use it for. The word's meaning by itself has no connection to the concept of function. The char happens to be used by a logician as a shorthand notation in his study of what's called “lambda calculus” (the “calculus” part is basically 1700's terminology for a systematic science, especially related to mechanical reasoning). However, the term “lambda” used in this way in computer science and programing has been long and wide, around 50 years in recent history (and more back if we trace origins). So, because of established use, here it may decrease the level of what we might think of it as a bad jargon, by the fact that it already become a standard usage or understanding. Even still, note that just because a term has establish use, if the term itself is very bad in many other aspects, it may still warrant a need for change. For one example of a reason, the argon will be a learning curve problem for all new generations.

You see, when you judge a terminology, you have to consider many aspects. It is quite involved. When judging a jargon, some question you might ask are:

• does the jargon convey its meaning by the word itself? (i.e. whether the jargon as a word is effective in communication)

• how long has been the jargon in use?

• do people in the community understand the jargon? (e.g. what percentage)

each of these sample questions can get quite involved. For example, it calls for expertise in linguistics (many sub-fields are relevant: pragmatics, history of language, etymology), practical experience in the field (programing or computer science), educational expertise (e.g. educators, professors, programing book authors/teachers), scientific survey, social science of communication...

also, you may not know, there are bodies of professional scientists who work on terminologies for publication. It is not something like “O think it's good, becus it is intuitive to me.”.

I wrote about 14 essays on various jargons in past decade. You can find them on my site.

i removed your arguments on other parts about “list comprehension”, because i didn't find them valuable. (barely read them) However, i appreciate your inputs on the “do” in Scheme lisp has a functional usage, and some other misc chat info from the beginning of this thread on comp.lang.lisp.

Xah ∑ xahlee.org ☄

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