I came across a version of Dijkstra’s “Goto Considered Harmful” annotated by David Tribble. A lot has changed since then; the annotated version is perfect for acquiring the right context to read the paper.
There was a particular line by the annotator that continues to amuse me:
Dijkstra seems to imply that iterative looping (inductive) statements are intellectually harder to grasp than recursion, which is the kind of thing only a mathematician would say.
Among the ways you can bisect computer science, is whether this statement insults or compliments.
Nah, just lump them all in the category of “takes things way too personally” 🙂
I’m glad you liked it. And yes, it’s kind of a double-edged sword; if mathematicians consider functional recursion an easier concept to grasp, is this a bad thing?
Funny thing, Zed Shaw gave a talk recently saying essentially this. Give a person a console, show them some commands, show them how to write their own commands through scripts and (he claims experience in this) they discover recursion on their own.
Leave a comment