Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Kuhn’

FUNGENOOP Programming

May 30, 2014 2 comments

As you might know, the word “paradigm” and the concept of a “paradigm shift” were made insanely famous by Thomas Kuhn’s classic book: “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions“. Mr. Kuhn’s premise is that science only advances via a progression of funerals. An old, inaccurate view of the world gets supplanted by a new, accurate view only when the powerfully entrenched supporters of the old view literally die off. The implication is that a paradigm shift is a binary, black and white event. The old stuff has been proven “wrong“, so you’re compelled to totally ditch it for the new “right” stuff – lest you be ostracized for being out of touch with reality.

In his recent talks on C++, Bjarne Stroustrup always sets aside a couple of minutes to go off on a mini-rant against “paradigm shifts“. Even though Einstein’s theory of relativity subsumes Newton’s classical physics, Newtonian physics is still extremely useful to practicing engineers. The discovery of multiplication/division did not make addition/subtraction useless. Likewise, in the programming world, the meteoric rise of the “object-oriented” programming style (and more recently, the “functional” programming style) did not render “procedural” and/or “generic” programming techniques totally useless.

This slide below is Bjarne’s cue to go off on his anti-paradigm rant.


If the system programming problem you’re trying to solve maps perfectly into a hierarchy of classes, then by all means use a OOP-centric language; perhaps Java, Smalltalk? If statefulness is not a natural part of your problem domain, then preclude its use by using something like Haskell. If you’re writing algorithmically simple but arcanely detailed device drivers that directly read/write hardware registers and FIFOs, then perhaps use procedural C. Otherwise, seriously think about using C++ to mix and match programmimg techniques in the most elegant and efficient way to attack your “multi-paradigm” system problem. FUNGENOOP (FUNctional + GENeric + Object Oriented + Procedural) programming rules!




Best Actor Award

I recently watched (Trifork CTO and Erjang developer) Kresten Krab Thorup give this terrific talk: “Erlang, The Road Movie“.  In his presentation, Kresten suggested that the 20+ year reign of the “objectsprogramming paradigm is sloooowly yielding to the next big problem-solving paradigm: autonomous “actors“. Using Thomas Kuhn‘s well known paradigm-change framework, he presented this slide (which was slightly augmented by BD00):

Kresten opined that the internet catapulted Java to the top of the server-side programming world in the 90s. However, the new problems posed by multi-core, cloud computing, and the increasing need for scalability and fault-tolerance will displace OOP/Java with actor-based languages like Erlang. Erlang has the upper-hand because it’s been evolved and battle-tested for over 20 years. It’s patiently waiting in the wings.

The slide below implies that the methods of OOP-based languages designed to handle post-2000 concurrency and scalability problems are rickety graft-ons; whereas the features and behaviors required to wrestle them into submission are seamlessly baked-in to Erlang’s core and/or its OTP library.

So, what do you think? Is Mr. Thorup’s vision for the future direction of programming correct? Is the paradigm shift underway? If not, what will displace the “object” mindset in the future. Surely, something will, no?

Too much of my Java programs are boilerplate code. – Kresten Krab Thorup

Too much of my C++ code is boilerplate code. – Bulldozer00

Java either steps up, or something else will. – Cameron Purdy

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