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50 in 50

Dr Guy Steele and Dr Richard Gabriel ( Sun Microsystems & IBM Research )

Languages -- what's to learn from them? Relics of the past; we know how to design them / to use them. Types / messages / invocation / loops / numbers / methods / big ol' libraries / lots of = signs. Heh, but what is programming, and what roles do programming languages play in that process? We have learned a lot over the last five decades: organizing principles, established conventions, theory, fashions, and fads. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

In this talk we survey what we think are the most important lessons of the past that future programmers -- and future programming language designers -- ought not forget. We illustrate each lesson by discussing specific programming languages of the past, and endeavor to shine what light we can on the future.   

Sun Fellow Guy Steele is a researcher for Sun Microsystems Laboratories, working on the Programming Language Research project. His research interests include Algorithms, Compilation, Distributed Systems, High Performance Computing, Java, Lisp, Scheme, Object Oriented Programming, Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Software, and Supercomputer design.

Richard P. Gabriel is a Distinguished Engineer at IBM Research, looking into the architecture, design, and implementation of extraordinarily large, self-sustaining systems. He is the award- winning author of four books and a poetry chapbook. He lives in California.

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