[Beowulf] A start in Parallel Programming?

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Mon Mar 19 12:35:19 EDT 2007

Beautiful paean to C Bob:-)
I'd just add that some languages, I think Ada and COBOL, are designed in
part to minimize certain classes of programmer errrors. Those languages are
sorta like the safety codes for wiring public places; they prevent the worst
errors, but do not necessarily well enable the Inner Artist.
Most real-time embedded programming is in C, but in lots of applications you
sacrifice efficiency for safety, like weekly payroll accounting.

On 3/19/07, Robert G. Brown <rgb at phy.duke.edu> wrote:
> On Mon, 19 Mar 2007, Mitchell Wisidagamage wrote:
> >>
> >>   a) Learn C.  No matter what you do, if you plan to be a "real coder"
> >> you will sooner or later need to learn C.  Sane people don't write
> >> operating systems in Fortran or C++ or Lisp, and there are damn good
> >> reasons for this.  Also you can do amazing things with C and actually
> >> understand what the computer is doing when you do them (because C has
> >> been described on this very list as "a thin veneer of upper-level
> >> language sensibility on top of raw assembler", a phrase that I just
> love
> >> that is SO true even though I can't remember who actually said it.  I
> >> wish it were me but it wasn't:-).  Who knows what LISP is actually
> doing
> >> and how it is doing it? Not even the developers...
> >>
> >
> > I'm a c fan myself. However when I was doing the "safety-critical
> systems"
> > module I was deeply disappointed to learn that c isn't "safe" and
> sometimes
> > "not recommended" (by IEC 1508 when developing safety critical systems).
> C for damn sure isn't "safe".  Neither is assembler.  Very few compilers
> could be called safe in the sense that it is impossible to write buggy
> code that is vulnerable to various exploits or at risk of crashing an
> application, but C is arguably more dangerous than most because with
> pointers and inlined assembler you can do "anything".
> Total power and complete control is never safe.  C is like an M-1 tank
> armed with pocket nukes and with a built in levitation system and
> antimatter propulsion system -- misuse it and you can blow up whole
> worlds, but it can solve lots of problems very quickly.  Safe is a kiddy
> bike with training wheels -- not fast, not powerful, but if you pedal
> long enough you can get where you want to go.
> Unless you get run over by a tank, that is.
> > I can understand why c is considered naughty but isn't it bad
> programming
> > (systems development) to blame rather than the flexibility of the
> language?
> Absolutely.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Neurosurgery
> is not safe.  Consequently Neurosurgeons require immense amounts of
> training and have to work extremely carefully -- and people still die.
> However, far more of them live!  Putting band-aids on is safe.  However,
> try putting a band-aid on a brain tumor.
> > I'm wondering what languages are actually used when developing critical
> > systems (such as aviation and missile control systems?).
> >
> > My uni's LAN is protected but I found a similar lecture series at
> another uni
> > on the net.  See page 25 on:
> >
> https://www.cis.strath.ac.uk/teaching/ug/classes/52.422/programming_languages.pdf
> >
> > Full lecture series:
> > https://www.cis.strath.ac.uk/teaching/ug/classes/52.422/
> Got me.  Whatever it is, it is perfectly capable of being buggy.  And
> whatever it is, the compiler itself was very, very likely written in --
> C.
>     rgb
> >
> > Regards,
> > Mitchell
> >
> >
> >
> --
> Robert G. Brown                        http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
> Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
> Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
> Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu
> _______________________________________________
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