Dijkstra - was: [Oberon] Reiser - Wirth book

Duke Normandin dukeofperl at ml1.net
Mon Oct 4 13:45:52 MEST 2010

On Mon, 4 Oct 2010, Treutwein Bernhard wrote:

> Hi Bob,
> [...]
> > Good luck with that. Experience has taught me that Dijkstra
> > was right about COBOL.
> just curious, what did Dijkstra say about COBOL, I know his nice sentence:
> 	The tools we use hav a profound (and devious!)
> 	influence on our thinking.

Here's a quote from Wikipedia:

Lack of structurability

In his letter to an editor in 1975 titled "How do we tell truths that
might hurt?", which was critical of several programming languages
contemporaneous with COBOL, computer scientist and Turing Award
recipient Edsger Dijkstra remarked that "The use of COBOL cripples the
mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal

In his dissenting response to Dijkstra's article and the above
"offensive statement", computer scientist Howard E. Tompkins defended
structured COBOL: "COBOL programs with convoluted control flow indeed
tend to 'cripple the mind'", but this was because "there are too many
such business application programs written by programmers that have
never had the benefit of structured COBOL taught well...".[7]

Additionally, the introduction of OO-COBOL has added support for
object-oriented code as well as user-defined functions and
user-defined data types to COBOL's repertoire.


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