On Sun, Apr 3, 2011 at 7:29 AM, Mike Stephens <rubfor / recitel.net> wrote:
>
> However, since you ask: Excel is by far the World's most widely used
> programming language.

As Carl Sagan once said: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Excel is an automation tool, certainly, but I wouldn't call a finance
sheet, sales report, or statistical analysis of data in a diagram
"programming".

> We recently had someone on this channel asking how
> to build an application to compare performance of schools. Something
> like Rails is a huge jump for a newby. Leveraging Excel knowledge could
> make this kind of thing so much more accessible.

But is the resulting product of similar quality as one done in an
actual programming language?

Across the metrics of code maintenance, compatibility (just hope that
MS doesn't ever change the behavior of a function your spreadsheet
happens to rely on, and that your spreadsheet works on all Excel
variants your clients might be running, since shelling out for a new
Excel version ain't cheap, nor is a corporate roll out easy to do),
and speed of development?

What about non-trivial applications, like a stock trading agent?

> But the other point is why does everybody make languages so difficult
> these days? I have a degree in Physics but couldn't face trying to
> unravel F# or Haskell. Don't tell me trying to fathom out complex
> recursive functions is a good way to spend your day.

Argument from authority. That you have a physics degree doesn't make
you a programmer. Nor does it make you particularly smart nor stupid,
or gives you the mindset a programmer should have. It makes you a
physicist, nothing more. That's kind of like saying that a bookkeeper
is a programmer because (s)he uses spreadsheets.

And really, if you have problems with recursiveness, I dare say that
you didn't enjoy college, considering the importance of maths in the
natural sciences. Just plain ol' acceleration is a recursive function:
changes of velocity over time are easiest calculated by recursion,
wouldn't you say?

Functional programming requires a particularly, let's say
anal-retentive, mindset, given the importance of type safety, and that
variables, usually, aren't variables. On the flipside, it makes
concurrency easier, and is a boon for critical code (you know,
robotics, MRI scanners, &c.).

> Of course, you have to encourage people to invent Lambda Calculus and
> then turn it into a computing language but such university thesis ideas
> shouldn't be seen as the model for real world products.

Yet there were ~7000 LISP machines sold (at, say, 100 000 per unit,
that's still quite a bit of revenue):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisp_machine

-- 
Phillip Gawlowski

Though the folk I have met,
(Ah, how soon!) they forget
When I've moved on to some other place,
There may be one or two,
When I've played and passed through,
Who'll remember my song or my face.