Programming Languages - An Active Learning Approach

Best Practices Library

In depth explanation of 2 different programming paradigms that you probably haven't thought of and how and when to apply them.

Date : 2009-05-03
This book is not at all what I thought it would be. It sounded like it was going to be an overview of man different languages but it actually focuses on 3 main groups of programming laguages.
Imperative/OO programming languages like Java, C++, Ruby, Pascal, Basic. This is probably the general list of languages that most programmers have some experience in.
Functional Programming languages like ML, Haskell, Lisp, Scheme and others like those. These languages while a little less common are known, but many programmers still haven't taken the time to learn what they are all about.
Logic Programming The only example of this is Prolog. Not a commonly used language but definitely one that we can apply programming principles to.

The book is definitely a book of programming theory. Code samples are given in C++, Ruby, ML, Pascal, and even Prolog. You learn, not how to write another code snippet but how to apply programming paradigms to different problems creating the most effective and simple solution.

In chapter 2 Lee describes the process of learning any programming language, he really boiled it down to 2 steps. Learning the Syntax and the Semantics of the language. This is so true, especially after you've learned a few programming languages. The first couple might give you some trouble but after that they are all the same, just have to learn a few details. When describing this process to most people I usually add one more: 'vocabulary', or learning the names of the different calls you can make. Lee's explanation definitely adds some finesse to the description.

Lee brings up some subjects that I hadn't thought of before. He describes a slightly different approach to programming than I have used in the past. It's definitely a must read for anyone who has the opportunity to use various languages to solve complex problems. Many programmers spend their whole career churning out lines of code in 1 or maybe 2 languages but never have the opportunity to determine for themselves which language would really be best for the project. This book helps those who do have that latitude and are looking for help in knowing what to do with it.

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