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investigation of the meanings of programming terms [May. 17th, 2018|08:07 pm]
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Any discussion on the foundations of computing runs into severe problems right at the start. The difficulty is that although we all use words such as ‘name’, ‘value’, ‘program’, ‘expression’ or ‘command’ which we think we understand, it often turns out on closer investigation that in point of fact we all mean different things by these words, so that communication is at best precarious. These misunderstandings arise in at least two ways. The first is straightforwardly incorrect or muddled thinking. An investigation of the meanings of these basic terms is undoubtedly an exercise in mathematical logic and neither to the taste nor within the field of competence of many people who work on programming languages. As a result the practice and development of programming languages has outrun our ability to fit them into a secure mathematical framework so that they have to be described in ad hoc ways. Because these start from various points they often use conflicting and sometimes also inconsistent interpretations of the same basic terms.

Christopher Strachey. “Fundamental Concepts in Programming Languages.” (Written in 1967.)