Winter tributes to APL

Godiva in WonderlandHave you noticed that the last two months of 2010 brought some pleasant surprises for APL?  Perhaps there is a decided shift in the public discourse concerning our underdog hero; or maybe like Alice, I’ve gotten lost in the Rabbit hole.  But it sure seems to me that supporters are coming out of the woodwork in unexpected places. As usual, this provokes a backlash from the unrelenting critics, but their words seem to lack luster, discipline and often sound petty.  An interesting development.

Some highlights of the articles that have passed over my screen in the last few months:

Dick Lipton, a Computer Science professor at Georgia Tech closed out November 2010 by musing on the subject of Notation and thinking. He writes about “notation in mathematics and theory, and how notation can play a role in our thinking.”  Of all things, he comes to the defense of APL’s character set as he puts it in the context of a history of symbolic notations, beginning in 1557 with the introduction of the equal sign, “=”.   Lovely!

In addition, thanks to a tip from my Twitter buddy @kaleidic, I learned that Allan Kay defends APL when Lipton’s colleague at Georgia Tech, Mark Guzdial, chimed in with what boils down to “APL is too hard“.

Incredibly it’s not just the academics who are speaking up.  Back in September, entrepreneur Allan MacKinnon noticed Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere included a tribute to APL in their new book Natural Computing, and he wrote about it in his blog, Pixel I/O.

Let’s see how this all unfolds in 2011!

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