[plt-scheme] Is it important to understand continuations conceptually; not in terms of their implementation?

From: Matt Jadud (jadudm at gmail.com)
Date: Sat May 3 11:46:17 EDT 2008

On Sat, May 3, 2008 at 10:47 AM, Grant Rettke <grettke at acm.org> wrote:
> I get the feeling that it is important to understand continuations
>  conceptually, and specifically not in terms of their implementation.
>  Does describing them in terms of their implementation serve as a
>  disservice? Will it be an impediment later on?

Are you asking "Does having an accurate model of continuations
adversely affect the ability to understand the use of continuations?"

I don't do a lot of programming that would benefit from the use of
continuations. However, I'm not sure how, having learned to implement
them, it makes it harder for me to use them.  The most obvious
pedagogic presentation of continuations I can think of (besides via
implementation in TSPL) is their use in web programming... and I
believe there's local expertise on this list in that regard.

What is a "disservice" in this context? That students who learn about
continuations by writing interpreters might construct an incorrect
mental model of continuations by implementing them correctly? That a
student might not have an "intuitive" understanding of how they can be
applied in larger software applications? If your question is one of
comparison/evaluation, I don't know how you would evaluate whether
students who learn to implement continuations through writing
interpreters have a "deeper" or "more meaningful" understanding than
those students who learned to use continuations through web


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