Programming for everybody

Walter F. Tichy is the first one in this roundup i’ve seen in person. He was my professor in the Softwaretechnik course (“software engineering”) and i’m currently in a workshop about Transactional Memory at his IPD. He wrote rcs, one of the first version control systems.

Das wichtigste Problem der Informatik ist die Programmierbarkeit.

Rechner sollten von jedermann programmierbar sein, ohne langwierige technische Ausbildung. Heute ist für die meisten Menschen das Programmieren viel zu kompliziert, wodurch Software zu einer Engpasstechnnik geworden ist. Erst wenn jedermann Rechner routinemäßig programmieren kann, vielleicht in dem er Rechnern mündliche Anweisungen gibt so wie er es heute mit anderen Menschen tut, ist das Problem der Programmierbarkeit gelöst. Wenn jedermann nicht nur Rechner benutzt, sondern sie auch anweist, wird das zu einer Explosion an neuen Fähigkeiten führen, die Rechner und rechnergesteuerte (vernetzte) Geräte übernehmen können. Erst dann erfüllt die Informatik ihr Potenzial, nämlich die Menschen von ermüdender, langweiliger, fehleranfälliger oder gefährlicher Arbeit zu befreien.

N.B.: Mit Programmieren meine ich das Erstellen von Handlungsanweisungen, nicht nur das bloße Einstellen
von Parametern wie z.B. auf einem Videorecorder oder einem Mobiltelephon, was ja auch manchmal als “Programmieren” bezeichnet wird.

My translation:

The most important problem in computer science is programmability.

Computer should be programmable by everyone without tedious, technical education. Today programming is much too complicated for most people, so software has become scarce (Engpasstechnik?). When everybody can routinely program a computer, maybe by giving verbal commands, like you do with humans, then the problem of programmability is solved. When everybody doesn’t just use a PC, but commands it, then this will lead to an explosion of new things, which computers and controlled machines can do. Only then computer science has fullfilled its potential, which is to free humanity from tiresome, boring, error-prone and dangerous work.

Btw with “programming” i mean the construction of commands, not only adjusting parameters like for example with a video recorder or a mobile phone. Sometimes that is called “programming”, too.

Note to self: Only ask in english from now on!

There is a common theme here. It started with Kernighan (programming is still too difficult) and continued with Felleisen who works on making programming better. Tichy uses an entirely different way, though. Felleisen works on programming language level and Tichy rather on the tool level.

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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