Bjarne Stroustrup: Learn More than One Programming Language | Summary and Q&A

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November 10, 2019
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Lex Fridman
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Bjarne Stroustrup: Learn More than One Programming Language

TL;DR

Knowing multiple programming languages helps improve programming skills and design, and allows for better expression of ideas and optimization.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why is it important for programmers to know multiple languages?

It is important for programmers to know multiple languages because it helps in improving programming skills and design. By learning different languages, programmers gain insights into different paradigms and commonalities, allowing them to become better programmers and designers.

Q: Which low-level language is recommended to learn for optimization purposes?

It is recommended to learn machine code and C++ for optimization purposes. Understanding machine code and machine architecture helps in optimizing code for performance. Additionally, using abstraction mechanisms in C++ allows for writing compact high-performance code.

Q: What are the benefits of learning functional languages?

Learning functional languages like Haskell and ML provides benefits such as expressing mathematical notions clearly and having strict type systems. These languages allow programmers to write code that is concise and expressive, making it easier to work with mathematical concepts.

Q: Why is it important to have a language for quickly churning out code?

Having a language for quickly churning out code is important because it allows programmers to prototype and iterate ideas rapidly. Languages like JavaScript, Python, and Ruby are often used for this purpose, as they offer flexibility and ease of use for quick development.

Q: Can you give an example of the benefits of abstraction and optimization in C++?

Yes, there was a keynote by Jason Turner where he programmed pong on a microcontroller using C++. He started with low-level code and gradually improved his abstractions, resulting in cleaner and more maintainable code. The compiler-generated assembly code was significantly better than hand-written assembly, showcasing the power of abstractions in C++.

Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of learning multiple programming languages and the inspirations they provide. They mention that knowing at least five languages is beneficial for professional programmers. The speaker then talks about their own list, which originally included C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript. However, they state that the number itself is not as important as the idea of learning different paradigms and the commonalities among languages. They also highlight the significance of understanding low-level languages like machine code and the role they play in optimizing performance. Additionally, the speaker emphasizes the value of functional languages for expressing mathematical concepts clearly and the importance of having a language for quickly prototyping solutions.

Questions & Answers

Q: How many languages does the speaker recommend knowing as a professional programmer?

According to the speaker, it is good to know at least five languages, although the exact number is not as important as the idea of learning different paradigms and commonalities among languages.

Q: Which languages did the speaker include in their original list of inspirations?

The speaker's original list of languages included C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript.

Q: Why does the speaker recommend knowing low-level languages like machine code?

The speaker believes that understanding machine code and machine architecture is important for appreciating and optimizing the performance of higher-level languages like C++. It allows programmers to have a deeper understanding of the underlying hardware and optimize code for better performance.

Q: What did the speaker mean by "going low-level is not actually what gives you the performance"?

The speaker suggests that while low-level languages like C can offer performance benefits, the key to achieving high-performance code lies in expressing ideas cleanly and allowing the optimizer to understand the code. They believe that using abstraction mechanisms provided by languages like C++ can lead to compact and high-performance code.

Q: Can you provide an example or demonstration of writing high-performance code using C++?

The speaker mentions a keynote by Jason Turner at the CPP Khan conference, where Turner programmed the game Pong using C++ on a Motorola 6800 microcontroller. He showcased the process of starting with low-level code and gradually improving abstractions, all visible in real-time through the use of the Compiler Explorer tool. The code became cleaner, easier to maintain, and shrunk in size, thanks to the abstractions provided by C++.

Q: Which languages does the speaker suggest for learning mathematical concepts and strict typing?

The speaker recommends functional languages like Haskell, ML, or any other functional language. They emphasize that such languages allow for expressing mathematical notions clearly and have a strict and powerful type system.

Q: What language does the speaker recommend for quickly prototyping solutions?

The speaker suggests using JavaScript, Python, or Ruby for quickly churning out prototypes or solutions due to their ease of use and rapid development capabilities.

Takeaways

In summary, the speaker advocates for professional programmers to have knowledge of multiple programming languages. They emphasize the importance of learning different paradigms and commonalities among languages. Understanding low-level languages like machine code can aid in optimizing performance in higher-level languages. Functional languages provide clarity for expressing mathematical concepts and strict typing, while languages like JavaScript, Python, or Ruby are suited for rapid prototyping. Overall, the speaker encourages programmers to continually expand their language knowledge to enhance their skills and understanding.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Knowing multiple programming languages, such as C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript, can improve programming skills and design.

  • Understanding low-level languages like machine code and C++ allows for better optimization and performance.

  • Learning functional languages like Haskell and ML helps in expressing mathematical notions clearly and strict type systems.

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