Holiday Greetings

Tagged as Dad, Programming Languages, Self-Learning

Written on 2007-12-23 05:59:21

Hello there, everyone. I've only dropped off the face of the earth. I'm not dead. Neither is Dad. So far we're all holding together well. He's had his brain radiated a few times and had bone infusions. Chemo begins shortly after Christmas. There is a Doctor who has talked about remission and on the whole I think we're optimistic. Or fighters anyway. Now, on to all the other business.

I'll be in Montana from the 2nd to the 11th, so I've got that coming up. I'll be in Bozeman if you're wondering. It'll be nice to get away for a bit...even if it is for a family reunion with people I haven't seen in a good while, my biological Dad's side of the family. For those who don't know, Mom divorced and the all too awesome feller suffering from Lung Cancer is (technically) my Step-Dad.

I need to draft up a schedule for the new year to figure out how I'm getting my studies done. And whose lectures and course materials I'll be following as I have a choice in some cases. More on that soon. There's also been a ton of great nerd discussion floating around the blogosphere of late, some of which I'll try to comment on in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here's a trivial nugget of thought.

I watched Lecture 1A of the classic MIT Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs series tonight and something struck me, mostly because Sussman brought the idea to the forefront with clarity at some point. He said something fairly fundamental that borders on self-evident when Computer Science is viewed introspectively but I hadn't formerly considered. In essence, Computer Science is about how to knowledge and process rather than declarative knowledge or fact. Thus, a programming languages job is to serve as a description of process and provide tools towards that end.

The part of this that I hadn't formerly considered is that this is why we bother, or even focus, on learning new programming languages and methods of abstraction rather than focusing on writing specific programs. Sure, many schools recommend a course in Compiler, Operating System, or Programming Language Design and there are plenty of blog posts detailing such undertakings in an effort to enhance skill and knowledge in the field but nothing is so popular or so emphasized as learning new languages. Regularly and of different paradigms and abstractions, if possible. There's something to think on in greater depth here about why that is that I haven't seen eloquently written about by Yegge, Graham, Braithwaite, Atwood, or anyone else. Perhaps if I can capture what it is, I'll write about it. In the meantime, it's just a thought.
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