Drawing Blanks

Premature Optimization is a Prerequisite for Success

Descriptive names considered harmful

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Ten years ago I was able to understand mathematical texts so much better than I’m able to now. And it is neither AD, nor ADD, or tequila that I blame.  I blame descriptive identifier names in program code. I have become spoiled by them. I expect to see long and descriptive identifiers in equations rather than single letters with overload resolution based on typography. And since I’m also spoiled by intelligent code editors, I expect to be able to trace a symbol’s definition without having to go five pages back and re-reading them.

For instance, I haven’t been able to understand what the heck the Einstein field equation really means, no matter how many times and how many texts I read. Let me tell you that by convention, a boldface R is the Riemann curvature. But sometimes it’s written as Rabcd. And Rab is the Ricci curvature. But when you see just an R (not bold and without indices) – it is the scalar curvature. Needless to say that all those Rs are closely related, and if you confuse some of them just for a second – you fail.

So in order to restore justice I want a programming language that differentiates names by typography (bold, italic, script, double struck, lower and upper indexes, Greek and Gothic alphabets, some Hebrew too) and has context-based overload resolution. And it should be named ω or something.

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Written by bbzippo

12/15/2009 at 4:57 am

Posted in fun, math, programming

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