Archive for June, 2008

A Possible Future History of Logic Programming

June 14, 2008

(from “The ALP Newsletter”, vol. 17, no. 1, Feb. 2004)

While it is well-known that it is hard to know anything about the future, it is less widely realized that it is also difficult to understand the present. It is therefore paradoxical that it sometimes helps to understand the present by means of a fictitious future history. In this essay I am going to exploit this paradox.

I place the viewpoint well away into the future. Again this may seem paradoxical, because in computing everything is supposed to happen fast. Not everybody thinks so. Paul Graham has embarked on a project that he calls “The Hundred Year Language” , pointing out that it is only hardware that changes fast. Programming languages change slowly. This is because they are part of culture; they reflect how human minds tackle problems. Hence Graham’s “Hundred Year Language”.

It so happens that Graham is concerned with Lisp. This is not the only paradigm in need of the long-term perspective. Accordingly, I imagine a history of logic programming as it may be written in the 2020s.

As I’m already exercising your indulgence with speculation, I will not attempt the fictitious future history itself, but instead bring out the salient points in an equally fictitious review of this nonexistent