20080306

Maybe conservatism isn't always bad...

Professors Robert Dewar and Edmond Schonberg recently published an article lamenting the current state of Computer Science education. Particular attention/derision was devoted to the growing use of Java as an educational language. The authors contend that Java is inappropriate as a first programming language, and argue that the result of this trend is a growing number of undereducated graduates. Being an anti-Javite of fluctuating fervor, the article resonated strongly with me. I've been cooped up in this ivory tower for about seven years now, and in that time, one of the most elusive mysteries has been the rise of Java. Like, seriously, I don't get it. I see more and more people using it. I hear more and more people talking about it. The breaking point was when a professor--presenting some algorithm that I've since forgotten--gave code samples in Java. What. The. Fuck.

Say what you will about C, but the fact remains that to be good at C, you've got to have your shit together. You have to understand memory management. You have to understand pointers. In short,
you have to understand how a computer actually works. Let's face it; C is the de facto standard language--for better or worse, it is our lingua franca.

"Science proceeds one funeral at a time" - Max Planck

I've been thinking about this article, and the ramifications that it suggests. Where will we be in thirty or forty years when all the old school programmers are gone? When the new crop of Java disciples are calling the shots? Will the Gospel according to Kernighan and Ritchie survive? Will it be passed down in shadowed ceremonies, uttered only to the chosen few? Or will the Java trend fade away and die an unremarkable death. Something tells me that isn't going to happen.

1 comment:

John L. said...

Down with Java! Fascist fuckers!