Skip to main content

Some were meant for C: the endurance of an unmanageable language

Kell, Stephen (2017) Some were meant for C: the endurance of an unmanageable language. In: Onward! 2017 Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGPLAN International Symposium on New Ideas, New Paradigms, and Reflections on Programming and Software. . ACM, New York, NY, USA ISBN 978-1-4503-5530-8. (doi:10.1145/3133850.3133867) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

PDF - Publisher pdf
Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication Download (309kB)
[img]
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3133850.3133867

Abstract

The C language leads a double life: as an application programming language of yesteryear, perpetuated by circumstance; and as a systems programming language which remains a weapon of choice decades after its creation. This essay is a C programmer's reaction to the call to abandon ship. It questions several aspects commonly held to define the experience of using C; these include unsafety, undefined behaviour, and the motivation of performance. It argues all these are in fact inessential; rather, it traces C's ultimate strength to a communicative design which cannot be understood within the usual conception of "a programming language", but can be seen as the antithesis of so-called "managed" languages. This communicativity is understood as facilitating the essential aspect of system-building: creating parts which interact with other remote parts---being "alongside" not "within", and of "alien" origin.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Proceeding)
DOI/Identification number: 10.1145/3133850.3133867
Divisions: Faculties > Sciences > School of Computing
Depositing User: Stephen Kell
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2019 15:30 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:15 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/69698 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Kell, Stephen: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2702-5983
  • Depositors only (login required):

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year