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Discussion on: Language Features: Best and Worst

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Fred Ross

MATLAB does the same thing as R (or really, historically, R does the same thing as MATLAB): scalars are length 1 vectors. Perl 5 doesn't do that, but if you write @(1, 2, @(3, 4)), which in most languages would give you a list of length three containing two scalars and another list, you instead get a list of length four.

These choices make certain programming tasks more straightforward at the expense of all other programming tasks. Which is fine if you know the language is meant for just those tasks.

For single vs multiple dispatch, multiple dispatch is the clear winner in all respects except familiarity is multiple dispatch.

For balancing syntax, I remember the BitC folks saying that their best decision was using S-expressions for syntax until the language semantics stabilized, because they ended up changing deep things that would have been a real pain if they had a more structured syntax. Then they built a syntax besides S-expressions after the semantics stabilized.

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