[Courses] [python] Googling isn't cheating :-)

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Sat Jul 9 01:57:20 UTC 2011

Dianne writes:
> Mmm. I partially agree, partially disagree. Many of the languages
> that are popular today are based on C (C++, Java, PHP, Javascript
> etc.) But even if you're fluent in all of those you'll still probably
> find it hard going if/when you switch to a language that is based
> on a totally different paradigm such as XSLT, Prolog, DDL or assembly.

Oh, yes, that's true. There are some languages (Lisp too) that
require bending your mind in new ways that are almost nothing like
ordinary programming languages. SQL (which Monique mentions) is like
that too, whether or not you consider it a programming language.

Monique Y. Mudama writes:
> I do kind of think, though, that learning any one language will ease the
> learning curve for any other.  Yes, there are certain paradigms within
> those languages that may be sticky - okay, in the case of Prolog, almost
> everything about it is different! - but after having been exposed to the
> basic idea of logically consistent, ordered behavior (ignoring OO and
> multi-threading for now), I think a person can apply those concepts to
> some degree to all languages.

I'm really glad I learned several procedural languages before
tackling Lisp. It still took me a long time to wrap my head around
Lisp coding, but I think I would have been completely lost if I
hadn't already had some programming practice and some notion of
different types of data structures.

I know a few people still advocating teaching Lisp as a first
language in college computer courses, but honestly, I suspect part
of that is to weed out the slow starters so those who survive can
feel all leet and superior.

>  And having learned "such and such is
> possible in my first programming language," a person is likely to expect
> that the same sort of thing should be possible in her next
> programming language, at which point a search engine can point her in
> the right direction ...

And learning the terminology from one language can help a lot in
googling for another -- even if the terminology is different, you'll
likely hit a bunch of StackOverflow posts from people asking things
like "What's the Javascript equivalent of string.split() in Python?"
which will give you not just the correct term, but also code samples.


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