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14.1. van Ammers (Other Opinions about Literate Programming)




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This article is from the Literate Programming FAQ, by David B. Thompson thompson@shelob.ce.ttu.edu with numerous contributions by others.

14.1. van Ammers (Other Opinions about Literate Programming)

An author (Eric W. van Ammers) wrote me a short article treating his
opinions on literate programming.

First observation on LP

About 90% of the disussion on this list is about problems with
applying some WEB-family member to a particular programming language
or a special documentation situation. This is ridiculous, I think.
Let me explain shortly why.

Lemma 1:

I have proposed for many years that programming has nothing to do with
programming langauges, i.e. a good programmer makes good programs in
any language (given some time to learn the syntax) and a bad
programmer will never make a good program, no matter the language he
uses (today many people share this view, fortunately).

Lemma 2:

Literate Programming has (in a certain way not yet completely
understood) to do with essential aspects of programming.

Conclusion 1:

A LP-tool should be independent of programming language.

Lemma 3:

It seems likely that the so called BOOK FORMAT PARADIGM [ref. 1] plays
an important role in making literate programs work.

Lemma 4:

There are very many documentation systems currently being used to
produce documents in the BOOK FORMAT.

Conclusion 2:

A LP-tool should be independent of the documentation system that the
program author whishes to use.

My remark some time ago that we should discuss the generic properties
of an LP-tool was based on the above observation.

References:

[1] Paul W. Oman and Curtus Cook. ``Typographical style is more than
cosmetic.'' CACM 33, 5, 506-520 (May 1990)

Second observation on LP

The idea of a literate program as a text book should be extendend even
further. I would like to see a literate program as an (in)formal
argument of the correctness of the program.

Thus a literate program should be like a textbook on mathematicics.
A mathematical textbook explains a theory in terms of lemma and
theorems. But the proofs are never formal in the sense that they are
obtaind by symbol manipulation of a proof checker. Rather the proofs
are by so called ``informal rigour'', i.e. by very precise and
unambiguous sentences in a natural language.

Eric W. van Ammers <ammers@rcl.wau.nl>

 

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