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Why do programming languages survive?

Why do programming languages survive?


A pair of Princeton and UC Berkeley researchers look at why some programming languages succeed and others fail. They posit that failure is attributable to the tendency to focus on uniqueness in design over practicality.

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Why is it that some programming languages like C stick around despite being ostensibly obsoleted by newer ones? Wired takes a look at the work of Princeton and UC Berkeley researchers Leo Meyerovich and Ari Rabkin, who try to address the question by polling programmers and scouring SourceForge. The answer? According to the pair, despite "enormous leaps" in software and OS design, in language design there’s a tendency to focus on uniqueness, at the expense of practicality. The researchers also note that poor documentation is a frequent barrier to the adoption of new languages. It’s probably worth pointing out that The C Programming Language was co-authored by the language’s designer, Dennis Ritchie, and is still frequently cited as one of the best programming books available, nearly 35 years since its release.