Tracy Harms

The J Language: Consistency, Adjacency, and Solution-Oriented Programming

The J Language: Consistency, Adjacency, and Solution-Oriented Programming

Computers were originally tools used by people to get the answers they needed for their immediate problems, and for making it easier to get similar answers in the future. Indeed, this remains so for most people; "application development" is a specialized niche. Shell-scripts and spreadsheets have interactive, flexible properties that help us get things done quickly. Rapid results through an immersive hands-on process is natural with array languages, too.

J is a refined array language that excels in this zone. Programmers without array-language experience are often shocked by J programs because they look so different from "normal" programs, and because they do so much in so little code.

What lets J code be so short are consistencies that let many things go unsaid. Among these consistencies is a tight syntax in which adjacency of tokens has immediate semantic power.

Experience for yourself the way terse expression comes from this minimalism. Glimpse why those who learn this language tend to prefer it so strongly ever after.

Talk objectives:

You'll get the opportunity to...

See how J specifies a lot of computation in a few characters.

Learn the heart of J syntax.

Notice many ways in which J is consistent, and how this helps.

Experience for themselves the way terse expression comes from J's minimalism.

Hear about the special terms of J and why they are preferred.

Learn why array languages were the leaders in bringing functional programming into the early years of business computing.

Understand the main benefits available from J and the other array languages.

Target audience:

Those who
... want alternatives to spreadsheets, R, Mathematica, etc.
... like to use teminals and REPLs
... like programming language theory
... want to see a different approach to functional programming
... want language to be a tool of thought

About Tracy

Tracy is from the American West, mostly Montana, Colorado, and Oregon but presently the older West, Ohio. As a boy in school they let him use APL, which was the most amazing thing he'd seen from a computer. Entangled with mysteries for years as a dissident scholar, he now diligently serves our robot overlords.

Github: harms

Twitter: @kaleidic

Back to conference page