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Expressiveness, revisited

I previously mused about the expressiveness of Ruby compared to Java. Dion Stewart pointed me toward F-Script, an interpreted, Smalltalk-like scripting language for Mac OS X and Cocoa. In F-Script, invoking a method on every object in an array is built-in syntax. Assuming that updates is an array containing objects that understand the preProcess and postProcess messages.

updates preProcess
updates postProcess

That's it. Iterating over the elements of the collection is automatic.

F-Script admits much more sophisticated array processing; multilevel iteration, row-major processing, column-major processing, inner products, outer products, "compression" and "reduction" operations. The most amazing thing is how natural the idioms look, thanks to their clean syntax and the dynamic nature of the language.

It reminds me of a remark about General Relativity, that economy of expression allowed vast truths to be stated in one simple, compact equation. It would, however, require fourteen years of study to understand the notation used to write the equation, and that one could spend a lifetime understanding the implications.

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