Dijkstra - was: [Oberon] Reiser - Wirth book

Bob Walkden bob at web-options.com
Mon Oct 4 19:54:02 MEST 2010

> > 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
> >
> > 	The tools we use hav a profound (and devious!)
> > 	influence on our thinking.
> Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
> [quote]
> Lack of structurability
> In his letter to an editor in 1975 titled "How do we tell truths that
> 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
> its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense."[6]
> 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
> 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
> to COBOL's repertoire.
> [/quote]

yes - with COBOL they always add, they never take away, so it becomes like
the attic in a 500-year-old country house.

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