Subject: Re: A Formal Definition of LANGUAGE ELEGANCE
From: (Rob Warnock)
Date: 1997/10/07
Newsgroups: comp.lang.c,comp.lang.c++,comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.misc,comp.lang.prolog,comp.lang.scheme,sci.math
Message-ID: <61c5qk$>

Bijan Parsia <> wrote:
| >" Call a program ``elegant'' if no smaller program has the same output.

Chaitin's seems to have used "elegant" in the same way as, say, physicists
chose the names "charm" and "beauty" -- because it was cute! His work would
read equally well (perhaps better, for *this* crowd!) if he had used the word
"minimal" (or some other rough equivalent) instead of "elegant".

| That all being said, I guess I should go read the paper. Unless, of
| course, it has nothing to do with capturing the logic of the more
| problematic value predicates we use with regard to various computer
| science entities. That's what *I'm* interested in.

Chaitin's work has nothing to do with "programming language advocacy", rather,
it's about an information-theoretic approach to computability, and some
implications that arise from that approach to issues such as completeness
(or rather, incompleteness).

In particular, he shows several alternate (and probably a lot easier to
understand) derivations of Godel's first incompleteness theorem, including
some based on the Berry Paradox ("the smallest <XYZ> not describable by a
sentence/program smaller than <this one>") rather than the Liar's Paradox
("this statement is false") used by Godel. (Well, he says Godel actually
used "this statement is not provable in formal system <this one>").

His larger result is a claim that incompleteness is not a niggling artifact
of the formal system Godel chose to work in, but a much more serious universal

Personally, I found it quite fascinating! However, it has nothing at all
to do with "pretty" versus "ugly" languages.


Rob Warnock, 7L-551
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