Feeds

Academics slam Java

Learn a real language

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.