APL BUG 11 May 2009: Catherine Lathwell Rediscovers the history of APL

from Curtis A. Jones
reply-to curtis_jones@ieee.org
to aplbug@listserv.acm.org
date Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 11:20 PM
subject APL BUG 11 May 2009: Catherine Lathwell Rediscovers the history of APL

The APL Bay Area Users’ Group (The Northern California SIGAPL of the ACM) will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday the 11th of May at the Computer History Museum.

Catherine Lathwell will speak on her rediscovery of the history of APL.

She witnessed the wild growth of APL in the 1970s as the daughter of Dick Lathwell who worked with Larry Breed and Roger Moore to turn Iverson notation into APL\360. Now she wonders “What is APL’s contribution to science?” and has begun producing a history of APL documentary film as an independent producer with CineFocus Canada.

More information is at http://aprogramminglanguage.wordpress.com/.

The talk will be at the Computer History Museum, 1401 North Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043
http://www.computerhistory.org

Officers for the APL BUG will be elected at the meeting. Anyone interested in standing for office should contact the chair, Chuck Kennedy at charles-kennedy@comcast.net.

Those interested in supper before the talk will try the new Pizzeria Venti at 1390 Pear Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043 650:254-1120 http://www.mvpizzeriaventi.com/ Please RSVP to curtis_jones@ieee.org if you’re planning to come to the restaurant.

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2 Responses to “APL BUG 11 May 2009: Catherine Lathwell Rediscovers the history of APL”


  • I worked with Ken in 1960 (and later) at the IBM Systems Research Institute in New York City. He was ironing out bugs in the APL language at that time, some years before anyone (co-worker Herb Hellerman, actually) thought to put the language on some machine.

    Every session, we worked the language generally by a group of us taking challenges from Ken (or sometimes he, from us). Perhaps the most popular challenge was of the form, “program this-and-such in APL, then see how few lines of code you can do it in.”

    It lost its popularity when Wolfgang Everling and I proved that ANY APL program could be written in one line.

    From there came the new challenge that has haunted APLers for half a century since: “program this-and-such in APL, then see how few characters you can do it in.”

  • It hasn’t stopped. Someone was incautious enough recently to post a challenge for a shorter version of a program, and APLers crawled all over it:

    http://www.craigmurphy.com/blog/?p=1417

    Vector magazine displays 1-line programs that solve Sudoku puzzles and play and animate Conway’s Game of Life:

    http://www.vector.org.uk/?area=about

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