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In Praise of APL: A Language for Lyrical Programming (1977) (jsoftware.com)
18 points by srpeck on Nov 7, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 3 comments



I posted this link [1] a few days ago on another thread. It is very relevant here.

Yes, APL was an amazing language. It was also way ahead of it's time. The technology wasn't quite ready for it back then. One can only wonder what might have happened had it been introduced thirty years later. The language simply didn't have an opportunity to evolve and mutate into something that could be pretty amazing by today's standards. If you've never used APL none of this will make sense to you.

And, no, J and other variants are equivalent. They really didn't contribute to the original concept of the language. As I said in a prior thread, given what Iverson says in this paper it is hard to imagine J as anything other than a lame attempt to reach some degree of financial success in an era when doing a language that was based on the concept of creating a notation system for computing was just about impossible. J, in many ways, is an abomination that may have hastened the lack of interest in APL.

Not sure a renaissance is possible today despite seeing posts on HN every few months.

[1] http://www.eecg.toronto.edu/~jzhu/csc326/readings/iverson.pd...


APL was the first language I learned - we used an IBM Selectric type terminal with an APL type ball on a time sharing system. I still fondly remember writing Least Squares analyses in 1 line of "code". I couldn't believe how clunky Fortran and Basic were in comparison.


Same here. My father worked for IBM research and we would use APL to code up spirographs and Lissajous curves. I would type in a slightly different number and get a new sprirograph which was neat for 10-12 year old kid. I am doing the same with my kids now though with Python. Anyway just for a play/fun side-project I am writing an APL interpreter in Java. But what I would really like to see is a Pythonistas type app but for APL with the tablet virtual keyboards supporting the APL glyphs. I wish I had more time, I would tackle this myself. I would also like to see APL in an IPython Notebook-like environment (now project Jupyter, I believe). Jupyter is meant to support R and Julia, but hopefully APL can be plugged in perhaps with NGN APL. With virtual keyboards I really believe we could see renewed interest in APL.




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