re: 5 Powerful Programming Languages to Stretch Your Brain VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

First of all, I would like to thank You for writing this article. Secondly, I would also like to state that arguing about languages is beneath me and please don't get offended as I'm only writing about my experience and conveying my own opinion.

I still notice that many people perceive programming comprising Web only technologies like JavaScript, React, Vue, etc. On the other hand, C++ is considered the most complicated all purpose language that is mostly used for high performance and system programming.

First of all, C++ is not so great and you can say what you will, but template hell aside, C is much faster and cleaner language and if low level and embedded is your thing, there's no other language that will make you REALLY understand how memory, threading and CPU works.

If you are in academic circles, doing some extensive calculations, then GPU or OpenCL will be your best friend, and that is also where C is your only option. The only low level language other than C is VHDL, a relatively new language used for FGPA programming.

So called modern programming paradigms apply only for Web and Mobile world since nothing has really changed, apart from new buzzwords that are basically synonyms for algorithms and/or technologies that have been available for quite a while. There are exceptions of course, but in the case of C++, there is really nothing you can do in C++ that you can't do in C. I accept that some will argue against type safety of void pointers and casting issues but the whole point of low level languages is to learn how stuff really works. If you are aware of endianness, padding, byte boundaries and how pointer arithmetic works, you will begin to appreciate the gained knowledge which will outweigh the initial frustrations of C. GDB and Valgrind are exceptional tools and are only getting better (GCC/Clang fsanitize methods).

I welcome the advances in Web realm, but let's not forget that all that JS is compiled and prepared by Node.js, served mostly by some Virtual Machines running on some *NIX distributions, and ALL of that is written in C. Node.js is a combination of C and C++ but it's core part, libuv, is written also in pure C.

I admire people who are mastering JavaScript and Web technologies because, let's be honest, it's chaos out there. JS is constantly being updated and it's really hard to follow, so I applaud you guys and don't take this as me putting C on a pedestal. I'm just to trying to remind everybody that it took a great deal of knowledge to create such a stable and old language, not to mention compilers, optimizations, etc.

Thank You for reading,
DF

P.S.
Haskell is a special kind of beast :)

 

C is a great language. I don't believe I said it wasn't, but I will say, not everyone should attempt to master C and it certainly (as some have suggested) is not the best tool for every circumstance.

I actually have written some C code and respect it as the defacto standard for applications where a small memory footprint is of the utmost importance. I do not disagree with you on the majority of your points.

I would have included C on this list, but I wanted to include Rust (which can serve some of the same needs as C) as this article is actually based on the five languages I'm most interested in mastering.

 

I have actually written a comment about that, and I agree that not everybody should burden themselves with C or C++.

Although I'm a C programmer and do mostly backend network programming involving raw sockets, packet capture, etc., I disagree when newcomers get advised to start from C language because they need to know how memory, cpu and whatever works at the basic lebel. That's great, but that's like saying I need to be a mechanic to learn how do drive. Since most of developments today is web dev which is done mainly in higher level languages like Javascript, there really is no need to burden yourself with all the complexities of C, C++ or any other statically compiled language with manual memory management. Unless you want to go in that direction like me for example or are attracted to embedded devices, stick to higher level languages. This is my opinion and in no way a professional guidance of any sort.



Also, learning all about memory, and CPU in the Von Neumann model is not necessarily reflective of modern computing models. Furthermore, it deprives us of the question of how high level programming should be done. Low level is not the most common paradigm for programming these days. Its more effective Software Engineering if we can hide away details of the architecture and the machine and let the language/platform deal with them. A great example of this is SQL, which although it has its problems as a language, is great at hiding away all the parallelism that goes behind it.

 

C is generally not considered to be a low-level language, rather assembly is intended with this term.

Calling VHDL new also sounds strange when it's from 1980. VHDL (1980) and Verilog (1984) are two hardware description languages. Their purpose is completely different from general programming languages and I would not classify them together with those. What could be said is that VHDL borrows syntax from Ada and Verilog borrows from C.

 

Hi and thanks for the history lession. I don't know much about VHDL, but I only used the word 'new' since it became more popular these days with increasing popularity of FGPA hardware. And I would agree that ASM is the real low level language, but let's put everything in todays context when everything is JS alike; in that case, C should be considered a low level language.

I always wanted to try and do something with FPGA, just for the fun of it.

 

Rust replaces C/C++ on this list. You say there's no other language that will make you really understand how memory, threading and CPU works, but that's no longer true. Since we have Rust now we no longer need C or C++, unless it is to maintain/interact with existing C++ code.

 

Rust doesn't really replace anything. Still to this date all the important low level programs are being written in either C or C++.

There are plenty of important things being done in the Rust space. There are more than 400,000 line of Rust in Firefox, iirc.

OK please don't make this a language wars thread. I've never used Rust and although it might be awesome, it takes years for a compiled language to become trully stable and get close to being bug free. Firefox is not really a poster child of stability. The best test for any technology, a language in this case, is a test of time.

Rust could become the future C/C++ alternative, lest it become another ghost of a good project. Years ago it was D, now it's Rust; C and C++ aren't going anywhere.

Time is a ruthless judge and jury.

D is not a zero cost abstraction language like C, C++ and Rust are. I was just correcting you on the point that you made about C and C++.

I only mentioned it since it was highly praised not so long ago. What point was that? You mean the test of time point I made?

Ah, just this one:

"there's no other language that will make you REALLY understand how memory, threading and CPU works."

I was just correcting that because it's a common misconception amongst C/C++ programmers. For decades they've deflected competitors like Java, D and Go with the argument that they're nice programming language, but there will still be a place for C/C++ because of its direct reasoning about memory and its ability for zero cost abstraction.

Rust is the first serious competition to C and C++ in this regard. It is a full replacement of C/C++, it does not abstract away anything.

I would also argue your test of time point, but you said you don't want a language wars thread so I'll refrain.

Good point and appreciate the argument. I never claim to know everything and it's always useful to gain extra knowledge. Please comment on the stress of time test, I'm interested in your arguments regarding. What I meant with not wanting language wars is a thread along the lines of "A is better than C", without stating hard facts and reproducible arguments.

Thanks for demystifying Rust for me 😁

Well the argument would be that since Rust is built on LLVM, and actually maps quite closely to the semantics of C, there already is decades worth of production tested compiler infrastructure beneath it.

Of course there still are bugs from the rest of the architecture, but I'd recommend you check out the way the compiler is being built. It is a lot more structured and well organized than most other projects I know of (both open source and commercial), I'd bet we're getting to the point where a new release of Rust has more structured and well thought out decisions made on it then for example C++20 would have, but then I'm crossing into more subjective territory so I won't make any hard statements there.

Well congratulations for sparking my interest in Rust. I understand your LLVM argument in favour of Rust; it has its merits. Also, function arguments in Rust remind me of Pascal which was my first programming language, the one that got me hooked to programming. Who knows, maybe I will finally find a friend for my goold old C buddy 😁. I've done a lot of C++ and it was that final disdain that made me use C exclusively. I'm going to keep my eye on Rust, thanks.

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