[TUHS] Why Pascal is Not My Favorite Programming Language - Unearthed!

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Sat Sep 2 02:34:09 AEST 2017

On Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 10:48 AM, William Cheswick <ches at cheswick.com> wrote:

> I think we have 30 years’ experience that clearly shows that dangerous
> languages
> will be misused in critical areas, even if most of us are very careful.

I think I would amend this to say something along the lines of, "we have
40+ years of experience clearly showing that dangerous languages cannot be
used safely in critical areas without a disproportionate amount of care and
effort, despite the best efforts and skill of our best programmers."

Marcus Ranum once wrote a one-page version of inetd that he thought was
> secure.  He was and is as committed to security as anyone, and had long
> experience writing software important to the early Internet.  Steve
> Bellovin found a security hole in that one-page program.
> I am convinced that a safe language with very tiny holes allowing access
> to dangerous stuff (like memory management in the kernel) is simply safer.
> Clearly, we are no where near that right now.

Moreover, as Steve said, what we consider "programming" these days is
different than it was even 20 years ago: the programs we write are largely
glue tying together a dizzying array of complicated and powerful libraries.
There was a time that whenever I wanted a linked list in C, well, I'd just
add a 'next' pointer to a struct; if I wanted a tree, I'd add 'left' and
'right' pointers. For the *vast* majority of programmers, those days are
gone but our languages don't really reflect that.

        - Dan C.
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