Feeds

Academics slam Java

Learn a real language

Security for virtualized datacentres

The choice of Java as a first programming language in computer science courses is undermining good programming practice, according to two leading academics.

In a withering attack on those responsible for setting the curriculum for computer science courses, doctors Robert Dewar and Edmond Schonberg of New York University (and principals of Ada language specialist Adacore) have said the lack of mathematical rigor and formal techniques is producing "replaceable professionals" more suited to the outsourcing industry than software development.

They singled out Java for specific criticism and note that its restricted use in the development of web applications stunts novice programmers' potential.

Referring to their experiences at New York University, the duo said: "Students found it hard to write programs that did not have a graphic interface, had no feeling for the relationship between the source program and what the hardware would actually do, and (most damaging) did not understand the semantics of pointers at all, which made the use of C in systems programming very challenging."

While the good doctors acknowledge that "real programmers can write in any language", they specifically laud the virtues of C, C++, Lisp and Ada.

All of which makes the criticism of Java somewhat odd. Java syntax is derived from C++ and both languages have their flaws and virtues. Java 's close association with web applications probably influences the way the language is taught in universities - but this is not a flaw in the language rather in the way it is presented to students. It would be equally valid to criticize Lisp because it is closely associated with the fruitless pursuits of the artificial intelligentsia or Ada because it is used to build weapons systems.

Academics, though, do have something of a habit of descending from the ivory tower to vent on specific programming languages and their users. Renowned computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra described those exposed to Basic as "mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration" while Tony Hoare famously lambasted Ada for its limitations in his Turing award speech in 1981. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.