Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

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Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Anuj Dhawan » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:12 am

Was searching internet and stumbled upon on this quote from E.W. Dijkstra

"The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should therefore be regarded as a criminal offense."

Wondering, when he said that what might have been going through his mind? Why would he say so? :unknown:


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Anuj

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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Robert Sample » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:06 am

He wrote that a LONG time ago when COBOL programmers used GOTO statements extensively. ALTER was also common. As COBOL has evolved, it has improved the structured programming capabilities quite a bit.



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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Anuj Dhawan » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:29 pm

If 'am not mistaken back then many other languages too made the use of GOTO, just making an argument for the sake of it. I mean I find that statement too strong to believe it...


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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by enrico-sorichetti » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:57 pm

The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should therefore be regarded as a criminal offense
frankly when I look at some posts here and in other mainframe related forums - I heartedly agree with Him;
the only alternative being that the authors minds were crippled from birth 8-)


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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Robert Sample » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:36 pm

Another Dijkstra quote from the 1960's:
For a number of years I have been familiar with the observation that the quality of programmers is a decreasing function of the density of go to statements in the programs they produce. More recently I discovered why the use of the go to statement has such disastrous effects, and I became convinced that the go to statement should be abolished from all "higher level" programming languages.
I think programming exposes a programmer's ability to think logically and clearly; sadly, many programmers fail at both. Weinberg's Second Law summarizes that so well!



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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Anuj Dhawan » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:21 pm

"GO TO" has been out fashioned for long but with my one of clients I do see it being used too heavily in COBOL programs and programmers seems to traditionally 'copy/paste' for new code. How do you get rid of this habit? it's 2017!


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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Robert Sample » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:31 pm

I don't recall the last time I used a GOTO in a COBOL program -- maybe early 1990's? Unfortunately, many "legacy" programs have them and some programmers just learn how to use them while doing maintenance.



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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by vasanthz » Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:21 am

I can understand him, Being a Cobol novice myself, Personally I find Cobol too difficult to write, understand and debug. Have not written one in past 10 years.


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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Anuj Dhawan » Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:45 pm

I think COBOL is pretty easy to understand. For some reason I always felt that if you can read and write English Language you can understand 75-80% of COBOL with out much effort. Rest is for what you are in to IT! :D

I think Dijkstra was referring to GO TO mainly, in a time, when most of the languages were avoiding its usage. Also, back then OOP concepts were getting in to the fashion and COBOL was a far cry from OOP back then. But as a COBOL programmer I felt sad about that statement as someone of his stature said that! :?


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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by enrico-sorichetti » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:23 am

I felt sad about that statement as someone of his stature said that!
that's Your problem , not a Professor Dijkstra problem 8-)

the paper containing the quoted sentence begins with
How do we tell truths that might hurt?
Sometimes we discover unpleasant truths. Whenever we do so, we are in difficulties: suppressing them is scientifically dishonest, so we must tell them, but telling them, however, will fire back on us. If the truths are sufficiently impalatable, our audience is psychically incapable of accepting them and we will be written off as totally unrealistic, hopelessly idealistic, dangerously revolutionary, foolishly gullible or what have you. (Besides that, telling such truths is a sure way of making oneself unpopular in many circles, and, as such, it is an act that, in general, is not without personal risks. Vide Galileo Galilei.....)
and ends with the postscript
PS. If the conjecture "You would rather that I had not disturbed you by sending you this." is correct, you may add it to the list of uncomfortable truths.
what would Professor Dijkstra have said if He had seen the posts made on the various mainframe forums by people calling themselves IT professional ???

for a collection of Professor Dijkstra papers
see here
https://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/
and here
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00 ... 78.html#a0


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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Anuj Dhawan » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:08 pm

enrico-sorichetti wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:23 am
that's Your problem , not a Professor Dijkstra problem 8-)
Half knowledge does not get you half way, it takes you no where - I did not read the entire article and made a guess...yeah, that's to do with me! :oops:

enrico-sorichetti wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:23 am
what would Professor Dijkstra have said if He had seen the posts made on the various mainframe forums by people calling themselves IT professional ???
If killing was not a crime...

Thanks for the links, got something good for the long weekend here in India. :)




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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by Deepa » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:18 pm

But Dijkstra was not a Mainframe Programmer, why does he comment on the COBOL?




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Re: Quote from E.W. Dijkstra.

Post by enrico-sorichetti » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:30 pm

did You care to read the whole paper ?


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When I tell somebody to RTFM or STFW I usually have the page open in another tab/window of my browser,
so that I am sure that the information requested can be reached with a very small effort 8-)

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