Stretching your mind: Arguing for multiple programming languages for designers

June 13, 2012 at 7:36 am 2 comments

Nice piece from Eugene Wallingford on Venkat Subramaniam’s talk at JRubyConf 2012.  Reminds me of Janet Murray’s argument for why designers should learn programming, and about the BLS data saying that we need more program designers.

Subramaniam began his talk by extolling the overarching benefits of being able to program in many languages. Knowing multiple programming languages changes how we design software in any language. It changes how we think about solutions. Most important, it changes how we perceive the world. This is something that monolingual programmers often do not appreciate. When we know several languages well, we see problems — and solutions — differently.

Why learn a new language now, even if you don’t need to? So that you can learn a new language more quickly later, when you do need to. Subramaniam claimed that the amount of time required to learn a new language is inversely proportional to the number of languages a person has learned in last ten years. I’m not sure whether there is any empirical evidence to support this claim, but I agree with the sentiment. I’d offer one small refinement: The greatest benefits come from learning different kinds of language. A new language that doesn’t stretch your mind won’t stretch your mind.

via Knowing and Doing: May 2012 Archives.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • […] Stretching your mind: Arguing for multiple programming languages for designers « Computing Educatio…. […]

    Reply
  • 2. Alfred Thompson (@alfredtwo)  |  June 14, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I’ve been a big proponent of learning multiple programming languages as early as possible in large part because I think it worked out so well for me in my career. I think that high schools expecially should offer multiple languages because the younger students seem to pick them up very quickly. Far from being intimidated younger students seem toe relish the experience. This is opinion and observation and not real data of course but I’m pretty confident in this anyway.

    Multiple kinds of languages is an even better idea. I wish that I had learned functional programming much earlier in my life for example.Trying to pick it up now is taking me longer than I’d like.

    Reply

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