Dept. Computer Science & Engineering, University of California at San Diego
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Data Types and Algebraic Semantics The history of programming languages, and to a large extent of software engineering as a whole, can be seen as a succession of ever more powerful abstraction mechanisms. The first stored program computers were programmed in binary, which soon gave way to assembly languages that allowed symbolic codes for operations and addresses. fortran began the spread of "high level" programming languages, though at the time it was strongly opposed by many assembly programmers; important features that developed later include blocks, recursive procedures, flexible types, classes, inheritance, modules, and genericity. Without going into the philosophical problems raised by abstraction (which in view of the discussion of realism in Section 4 may be considerable), it seems clear that the mathematics used to describe programming concepts should in general get more abstract as the programming concepts get more abstract. Nevertheless, there has been great resistance to u...
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In People and Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science