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The Fall and Rise of Dynamic Programming Languages

A talk by rdenatale

About the Talk

February 20, 2009 10:15 AM

A war is being waged between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. The imperial forces are laboring tirelessly to stamp out such dangerous ideas as late-binding, and automatic memory management.

Based on long experience, such ideas are known to cause severe performance problems at best, and to bring down the Empire with errors at worst.

The year, 2008 Ruby vs. Java*, or ca 1990 Smalltalk vs. C++, or ...

The languages change, but the arguments remain. After a period in the shadows, dynamic languages have been on the rise again. Ruby has been at the forefront of this resurgence, with older dynamic languages tagging along. At the same time, hard-learned lessons from the implementation of these earlier languages are starting to have an influence on implementation of the newer ones. Witness the buzz in the Ruby community about "repurposeing" projects such as MagLev.

This talk will explore the history of the dynamic vs. static debate, and attempt to bring to light the reasons why many of the arguments against dynamic languages are based on things which just don't matter if the language isn't static.

I'll also have a few things to say about why things like MagLev make sense.

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