Paul Lutus wrote:
> 
> In essence, this article advocates anarchy. The counter-evidence is to ask
> which languages persist, and which fade away. Free-form languages,
> languages that let you do whatever you please, tend to have short lives or
> are quickly rendered incomprehensible because of the very freedoms that
> originally made them appealing (Perl).

This seems to describe Ruby, and many here are very proud of how Ruby lets you redo any primative. I'm confused. Are you saying that Ruby doesn't allow something?

> The longest-lived, most useful
> languages have the strictest syntax and the fewest built-in dodges.
> Example? mathematical notation.
> 
> Mathematical notation is extremely strict and slow to change.

Every book has their own mathematical notation. Beyond basic addition a (even then not always well defined when people leave out the vector notation and essentially vectorize the plus operator implicitly). Many math books are notorious for their poor notation and in lacking rigor.


> Apart from
> some recent window dressing, the last significant change was the adoption
> of Liebniz' Calculus notation over that used by Newton in the late 17th
> century. Consequently, mathematical notation has the widest audience of any
> formal symbolic language. And programs that purport to be able to fluently
> read and write mathematical notation are in great demand and fetch high
> prices (Mathematica, Maple, Matlab, IDL).
> 

APL is its successor J is essentially defined by Iverson as executable notation, yet APL has almost died off (not a positive in my view), and J -- despite fixing APLs worst misfeatures -- has never really gathered that big of a following. Lisp continues to outlive APL, even if on life support, yet it is hard to classify as strict or loose. In syntax it may be very strict, but in semantics it is very loose.

Language longevity seems to be based on the more nebulous but very real world impact the language makes on its ability to add libraries and functionality without making the language too complex. Perl failed, but C with its simple libraries seems to continue.

-j