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3. APL > Paper and Pencil

Paper and Pencil

I read a paper written by you and Ken Iverson, “The Design of APL,” which said that the first seven or eight years of development happened without any computer involved! This let you change design aspects without having to worry about legacy issues. How did the first software implementation influence the evolution of the language?

Adin Falkoff: Yes, the first years of the evolution of APL, when it had no name other than “Iverson’s notation,” were mainly concerned with paper-and-pencil mathematical applications, analysis of digital systems, and teaching. To a great extent, we thought of programming as a branch of mathematics concerned with the discovery and design of algorithms, and this concept was supported by the symbolic form of the notation. The attractiveness of the notation as a general programming language became evident after a while, and was advanced by the efforts of various people (in particular, Herb Hellerman at IBM) who experimented with machine implementations of significant elements of the notation, inc....


  

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