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14. UML > Knowledge

Knowledge

How much knowledge of software engineering is linked to a particular programming language?

Ivar: Very little. Universities teach programming languages, so people believe that the language is the central point. The real problem is understanding software in general.

How do you capture requirements? How do you know if you are building the right system? How do you test whether you have built the system right? How do you do configuration management and version control? How do you do the 30 or 40 practices that you don’t learn at school?

People learn the easy things at school. That’s why they’re taught at school. Programming languages are relatively easy to teach and learn. When I was at MIT, I took the class 6001, where we used Scheme, a variant of Lisp, to describe several phenomena in the computer science world. People took that class directly from high school—they wrote code during the class—and it was one of the most fantastic classes I have taken. You used a language to describe phenomena such as compilation, execution, interpretation, and many of the interesting phenomena in the computer science world. You also learned the basic ideas of programming, so programming actually became simple.


  

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