[TUHS] PWB - what is the history?

Doug McIlroy doug at cs.dartmouth.edu
Thu May 17 00:05:24 AEST 2018

> I think you mean 'style' and 'diction'. I thought those came from
research? I 
> remember seeing papers about them in a manual; maybe 7th Ed or 4.2/4.3BSD?

They were in WWB (writers workbench) not PWB (programmers workbench).
WWB was a suite of Unix programs, organized by Nina MacDonald of USG.
It appeared in various Unix versions, including research v8-v10.

Lorinda Cherry in research wrote most of the basic tools in WWB,
most notably style, diction, and the really cool "parts" that
underlay style. William Vesterman at Rutgers suggested style and
diction. Having parts up her sleeve, Lorinda was able to turn them out
almost overnight. Most anyone else would scarcely have known how to
begin to make style.

Just yesterday Lorinda received a Pioneer in Tech award from the National
Center for Women in IT. Parts and eqn, both initiated by her, certainly
justify that honor.

[Parts did a remarkable job of tagging text with parts of speech, without
getting bogged down in the swamp of parsing English. It was largely
implemented in sed--certainly one of the grander programs written in that
language. Style reported statistics like length of words, frequency of
adjectives, and variety of sentence structure. Diction flagged cliches
and other common infelicities. WWB offered advice based on the findings
of these and other text-analysis programs.]


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