Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.
[Computer science] is not really about computers and it’s not about computers in the same sense that physics is not really about particle accelerators, and biology is not about microscopes and Petri dishes… and geometry isn’t really about using surveying instruments.
There’s a good part of Computer Science that’s like magic. Unfortunately there’s a bad part of Computer Science that’s like religion.
First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.
Now, the reason that we think computer science is about computers is pretty much the same reason that the Egyptians thought geometry was about surveying instruments. And that is, when some field is just getting started and you don’t really understand it very well, it’s very easy to confuse the essence of what you’re doing with the tools that you use.
Universities are meant to pass the torch of civilization.
If we can dispel the delusion that learning about computers should be an activity of fiddling with array indexes and worrying whether X is an integer or a real number, we can begin to focus on programming as a source of ideas.
A powerful programming language is more than just a means for instructing a computer to perform tasks. The language also serves as a framework within which we organize our ideas about processes.
The computer revolution is a revolution in the way we think and in the way we express what we think.
What’s important is not just to develop the technology; it’s to develop the processes.
Applicants must also have extensive knowledge of Unix, although they should have sufficiently good programming taste to not consider this an achievement.
Congress is good at doing two things: one is nothing, and the other is overreacting.
The computer revolution is a revolution in the way we think and in the way we express what we think. The essence of this change is the emergence of what might best be called procedural epistemology-the study of the structure of knowledge from an imperative point of view, as opposed to the more declarative point of view taken by classical mathematical subjects.
We have also obtained a glimpse of another crucial idea about languages and program design. This is the approach of statified design, the notion that a complex system should be structured as a sequence of levels that are described using a sequence of languages. Each level is constructed by combining parts that are regarded as primitive at that level, and the parts constructed at each level are used as primitives at the next level. The language used at each level of a stratified design has primitives, means of combination, and means of abstraction appropriate to that level of detail.