[racket] thank you for typed racket

From: Robby Findler (robby at eecs.northwestern.edu)
Date: Tue Feb 22 09:26:49 EST 2011

Nevertheless, for one not acquainted with the history, I'm quite sure
this was a heartfelt compliment and one that should be taken in the
spirit given, no?


On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 8:15 AM, Matthias Felleisen
<matthias at ccs.neu.edu> wrote:
> On Feb 22, 2011, at 7:43 AM, Matthias Felleisen wrote:
>> You should have written the compiler in ML. -- Matthias
> Since not even some of my oldest students understand this remark,
> let me explain this answer in gory detail.
> 1. The idea that changing data definitions demand a typed language
> is the oldest argument in favor of statically (soundly) typed languages
> such as ML and Haskell. It was used in the 1980s, especially by the NJ
> faction. I was inundated with the argument during my CMU sabbatical in
> the mid 1990s.
> 2. The idea that this is especially true for the development of a compiler
> is a tad older. All the people who wanted to automatically translate some
> semantic spec (usually denotation) into compilers discovered two things:
>  -- the semantics changes, especially the domains
>  -- the manual translation for exploring automatic translations suffer
> See Mitch's SPS from 1983 and Peter Mosses's dissertation in the late 70s
> and many more.
> I believe that ML -- especially SML -- accumulated its local following
> because all these people were writing compilers and teaching interpreters.
> 3. Typed Scheme/Racket was conceived as a way to move from untyped code
> to typed code so that we could eventually enjoy the same advantages as
> ML and Haskell during maintenance (1). But it is definitely a language
> that compromises with this idea. The compromise is visible in many
> usage aspects. The only way to defend these compromising weaknesses
> is to point to its true role in our tool chain.
> So for someone to say "I wrote a compiler and TR was good for it"
> seems to completely miss the point. It would be a true and deserved
> compliment if the post read like this
>  -- I wrote a compiler
>  -- I benefited from TR because ...
>  -- And I need X Y and Z from R because pedestrian languages
>        such as ML and Haskell don't support it
> As is, it is almost a two-edged compliment. A mean-spirited MLer
> or Haskeller -- not that there are any -- would and should reply
> with "told you so. You should have used ML or Haskell and you
> would have been even more productive."
> -- Matthias
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