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Hints on Programming Language Design

Professor Niklaus Wirth ( ETH, Zurich )

Programming language design is the art of finding a compromise between many, often conflicting, criteria. Among them are simplicity and economy of concept, efficient implementability, structure and regularity, machine independence, formality of definition, conventionality of appearance, appeal to feelings, compatibility with current standards, and support of established organizations.

We offer an opinion on their relative relevance and merit in education and practice. We also present a critical evaluation of these criteria on hand of our recent language design for an on-board control and guidance system for an autonomously flying model helicopter.

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