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Introduction to Little programming languages

One spin-off of the UnixDesignPhilosophy was the realization that it is easier to implement a task-specific language optimized for that task than it is to implement a general-purpose language optimized for all possible uses. The Little Language title was given by JonBentley in the Communications of the ACM.

Characteristics of Little Programming

  • May or may not be TuringComplete
  • Very efficient to execute (for example, sed scripts don't need to be tokenized; they already are.) both in terms of speed and memory (most cases) in their intended scope
  • Reasonably simple to express (RegularExpressions are simple enough to be concisely described on a single sheet 8 1/2"x11" paper, single spaced, 10 point font.)
  • Very powerful, within their scope, frequently to the logical extreme of their scope
  • Pathologically cryptic, requiring users to become experts before using them
  • Some little languages are not designed with efficiency in mind at all. Instead, it's intended to save the developer time and effort by allowing her to express her intentions at a much higher level of abstraction. This allows the developer's programs to be much shorter than equivalent programs in other languages

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interactive programming

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