Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Last Language War / Language Trolling Post You'll Ever Need To Read (Hopefully)

Moderator: Greetings, and welcome to the First-And-Possibly-Last-Ever Pan-Computer-Programming-Language Conference (FAPLEPCPLC). I am joined on stage tonight by many distinguished, high-profile computer programming languages. Each is highly regarded by its devotees, and I for one look forward to hearing what each has to say.

Ruby (grabbing the microphone): Um so yeah I'd just like to kick this bad boy off by saying that THE REST OF YOU SUCK A**!!! Yeah, I said it! The A-word! A**! Oh yeah! Boom, baby! Woo! Ruby FTW!

Java (rolling its eyes): Oh, real mature. I, on the other hand, would like to state that I have important work to get done in the Enterprise, so let's not waste everyone's time. I suggest we proceed using the Computer Programming Languages Discussion Pattern as implemented in JSR-6942, the Java™ Absolutely Void-of-Acronyms Talking About Languages at Konferences (JAVATALK™ which by the way is not an acronym for anything) specification.

Ruby: Dude! I just wrote a full working clone of Google while you were giving your riveting little speech there!

Moderator: Oh, bravo, Ruby! I'd like to see that. Where is it deployed?

Ruby: Umm....

Lisp: In the beginning, there was the Lambda. And John McCarthy saw the Lambda. And John McCarthy saw that the Lambda was very good.

Ruby (rolling its eyes): Here we go...

Lisp: And John McCarthy spake, and lo! the tongue he spake was sexp...

Ruby: He said sex! Heeheeheeheehee!

Erlang: If I may, I've been running some ideas by the other panelists, all at the same time of course, not that that's any big deal...

Ruby (rolling its eyes): And here we go with the concurrency...

Java: Gosh darn it, Ruby! There's no need to pooh-pooh everything someone else says, eh?

Ruby: He said poo-poo! Heeheeheeheehee!

Java: Ruby, I swear, one of these days...

Ruby: Hey, don't give me any of your static! Heeheeheeheehee! See what I did there?! "Static"?! 'Cause I'm so dynamic?! GET IT?!!! DAMN, where's my BAWLS Guarana...?

Ruby (seconds later): I said balls! Heeheeheeheehee!

C#: Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!

Erlang: ...I'd share my results with you, but it's going to take a while to retrieve them from the filesystem...

COBOL: keels over, only to be frantically revived by about three banks.

Basic: Actually, I have a question for Ruby...

Haskell: Me too...

ML: Hey, Ruby, what's your answer to...

Ruby: Hey, hey, hey now! Not too many at a [segfault]

Java: smiles

bash: kill -9 self

The Lambda Calculus: Actually, if we could all just take a moment to reflect on the implications of the Church-Turing thesis...

Everyone Else: Oh, SHUT UP!!!!!!

Scala: says nothing, but sits quietly observing, taking notes, and learning a lot.

Moderator: Well, I think it's about time to bring some closure to this, um, lively...discussion...

Java (sharply): Hey! We're working on it!

Lisp: ))))))))))))))))))))))

Java 1, Intuition 0

Pop quiz: If you were given the following snippet of code:
...what would you expect the result to be?

If it helps, the contract for String.split() is that it takes a regular expression (in this case \s means "anything that could reasonably be considered whitespace, like spaces, tabs, et cetera"), and returns a String[].

My intuition was that it would return an empty String[]. (Author's Note: which would have been better than a null, but even that's not what I got.)

I mean think about it: what does it mean to split the empty string, on any character? The empty string has length 0, so what can you split it into? Two strings of length 0? But then you could do that ad infinitum, which would be silly.

So what Java actually does is return an array with one string: the empty string, or one string of length 0. Which implies that Java thinks the beginning of a string -- represented by the regex \A, or ^ if you know the string you're regex-ing doesn't contain newlines -- is significant, but the end of a string (\Z or $) is "whitespace". I guess you could make a case for this making sense, but it doesn't match up with my intuition.

What do you think?