The Sweet Spot in Programming!

June 15, 2010 at 10:02 pm (C, Computer Science, Opensource, Programming, Rant, Technology) ()

I was commenting earlier today on a blog concerning Ubuntu and Mono and mentioned that I thought we were still trying to squeeze performance out of our processors and memory and that C#/Mono was not THE answer to getting the strong apps needed on the Linux platform (desktop that is). After considering things for a while I’m not sure, with the present computing architecture that we will ever get but so close to the metal with the higher level languages like the C#s Javas etc. I know we do system programming in those languages presently but the higher the abstraction gets from the hardware the less crisp our expressiveness gets as to where we want the hardware to go. We will continue to whip the hardware and drivers around for the far foreseeable future because human-beings are wired that way not to mention it will remain the right tool for the right job. I know some would like to think that we will be writing operating systems in C# in the next 5-10 years but as long as we know we can squeeze seconds and even milliseconds off an algorithm we will continue to do so, it only makes sense. I don’t see us ever giving in to the inefficiencies that managed code brings with it at too deep a level in the stack. When it comes to controlling the things that make our hardware hum along we will not relinquish control any time soon.

I was watching a webcast from the Berkeley CS 61a course with Brian Harvey. While he was wrapping up the final lecture he made the point to the students about not being a functional, object-oriented, or procedural programming bigot. My paraphrase of course, but the point being that these abstractions and languages have their place and great hackers will continue to wield them correctly, knowing where to make the transition from one to the other, without being religious or idealistic but pragmatic. I only hope my learning brings me to a place where I’m able to wield these tools rightly and not only write about them..


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