Programming Languages Mentioned

Copyright (c) 2000, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers

This appendix provides brief descriptions, bibliographic references, and (in many cases) URLs for on-line information concerning each of the principal programming languages men- tioned in this book. The URLs are accurate as of early 1999, though they are subject to change as people move files around. A similar but longer appendix may be found in the text by Finkel [Fin96, pp. 423 ff]. Some additional URLs can be found in the bibliographic references.

For many languages XXX, there exists an Internet newsgroup comp.lang.XXX. Many of these newsgroups host frequently-asked-question (FAQ) lists. Bill Kinnersley maintains an extremely useful index of on-line materials for hundreds of programming languages at Other useful resources include the Yahoo language sub-index (, the WWW Virtual Library page on computer languages (, and the HyperNews languages list (

Figure A.1 shows the genealogy of some of the more influential or widely used programming languages. The date for each language indicates the approximate time at which its features became widely known. Arrows indicate principal influences on design. Many influences, of course, cannot be shown in a single figure.

Originally intended to be the standard language for all software commissioned by the US Department of Defense [Ame83]. Prototypes designed by teams at several sites; final '83 language developed by a team at Honeywell's Systems and Research Center in Minneapolis and Alsys Corp. in France, led by Jean Ichbiah. A very large language, descended largely from Pascal. Design rationale articulated in a remarkably clear companion document [IBFW91]. Ada 95 [Int95a] is a revision developed under government contract by a team at Intermetrics, Inc. It fixes several subtle problems in the earlier language, and adds objects, shared-memory synchronization, and several other features. Freely available implementation distributed by Ada Core Technologies ( under terms of the Free Software Foundation's GNU public license.
Algol 60
The original block-structured language. The original definition [NBB+63] by Naur et al. is considered a landmark of clarity and conciseness. It includes the original use of Backus-Naur Form (BNF).
Algol 68
A large and relatively complex successor to Algol 60, designed by a committee led by A. van Wijngaarden. Includes (among other things) structures and unions, expression-based syntax, reference parameters, a reference model of variables, and concurrency. The official definition [vMP+75] uses unconventional terminology and is very difficult to read; other sources [Pag76, Lv77] are more accessible.
Algol W
A smaller, simpler alternative to Algol 68, proposed by Niklaus Wirth and C. A. R. Hoare [WH66, Sit72]. The precursor to Pascal. Introduced the case statement.
Designed by Kenneth Iverson in the late 1950's and early 1960's, primarily for the manipulation of numeric arrays. Functional. Extremely concise. Powerful set of operators. Employs an extended character set. Intended for interactive use. Original syntax [Ive62] was non-linear; implementations generally use a revised syntax due to a team at IBM [IBM87]. Extensive on-line resources available at
Simple imperative language, originally intended for interactive use. Original version developed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz of Dartmouth College in the early 1960's. Dozens of dialects exist. Microsoft's Visual Basic [Mic91], which bears little resemblance to the original, is the most widely used today. Minimal subset defined by ANSI standard [Ame78b].
One of the most successful imperative languages. Originally defined by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie of Bell Labs as part of the development of Unix [KR78]. Concise syntax. Unusual declaration syntax. Intended for systems programming. Weak type checking. No dynamic semantic checks. Standardized by ANSI/ISO in 1990 [Ame90]. Extensions for international character sets adopted in 1994. More extensive changes under consideration by an ISO working group as of this writing [Int98a]. Freely available implementation (gcc) distributed for many platforms by the Free Software Foundation (
The most successful of several object-oriented successors to C. Designed by Bjarne Stroustrup of Bell Labs. Includes (among other things) generalized reference types, both static and dynamic method binding, extensive facilities for overloading and coercion, and multiple inheritance. No automatic garbage collection. Useful references include Stroustrup's text [Str97] and the reference manual of Ellis and Stroustrup [ES90]. Recently standardized by the ISO [Int98b]. Freely available implementation included in the gcc distribution (see C).
See Mesa and Cedar.
The Common Lisp Object System [Kee89; Ste90, chapter 28]. A set of object-oriented extensions to Common Lisp, now incorporated into the ANSI standard language (see Common Lisp). The leading notation for object-oriented functional programming.
Developed by Barbara Liskov and associates at MIT in the late 1970's [LG86]. Designed to provide an unusually powerful set of features for data abstraction [LSAS77]. Also includes iterators and exception handling. Freely available implementations for most Unix platforms available at
Originally developed by the US Department of Defense in the late 1950's and early 1960's by a team led by Grace Murray Hopper [Uni60]. Long the most widely used programming language in the world. Standardized by ANSI in 1968; revised in 1974 and 1985 [Ame85]. Intended principally for business data processing. Introduced the concept of structures. Elaborate I/O facilities.
Common Lisp
The standard modern Lisp (see also Lisp). A large language. Includes (among other things) static scoping, an extensive type system, exception handling, and object-oriented features (see CLOS). For years the standard reference was the book by Guy Steele, Jr. [Ste90]. More recently the language has been standardized by ANSI [Ame96]. An abridged hyper-text version of the standard is available on-line at
See Occam.
An object-oriented language developed by Bertrand Meyer and associates at the Societe des Outils du Logiciela Paris [Mey92]. Includes (among other things) multiple inheritance, automatic garbage collection, and powerful mechanisms for re-naming of data members and methods in derived classes. Extensive on-line resources available at
Imperative language developed by Butler Lampson and associates at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the mid 1970's [LHL+77]. Designed to eliminate many of the sources of common programming errors in Pascal, and to facilitate formal verification of programs. Has closed scopes and module types.
The original high-level imperative language. Developed in the mid 1950's by John Backus and associates at IBM. The most important versions are Fortran I, Fortran II, Fortran IV, Fortran 77, and Fortran 90. The latter two are documented in a pair of ANSI standards [Ame78a, Ame92]. Fortran 90 [MR96] (updated in 1995) is a major revision to the language, adding (among other things) recursion, pointers, new control constructs, and a wealth of array operations. As of 1999, Fortran 77 is still more widely used. Freely available implementation (g77) distributed by the Free Software Foundation (
The leading purely functional language. Descended from Miranda. Designed by a committee of researchers beginning in 1987. Includes curried functions, higher-order functions, non-strict semantics, static polymorphic typing, pattern matching, list comprehensions, modules, monadic I/O, and layout (indentation)-based syntactic grouping. Haskell 98 [PHA+99] is the most recent as of this writing; design of Haskell 2 is underway. On-line resources available at
The successor to Snobol. Developed by Ralph Griswold (Snobol's principal designer) at the University of Arizona [GG97]. Adopts more conventional control-flow constructs, but with powerful iteration and search facilities based on pattern-matching and backtracking. Implementations, documentation, and other resources available at
Object-oriented language based largely on a subset of C++. Developed by James Gosling and associates at Sun Microsystems in the early 1990's [AG98, GJS96]. Intended for the construction of highly portable, architecture-neutral programs. Defined in conjunction with an intermediate byte code format intended for execution on a Java virtual machine [LY97]. Includes (among other things) a reference model of (class-typed) variables, mix-in inheritance, threads, and extensive pre-defined libraries for graphics, communication, etc. Heavily used for transmission of program fragments (applets ) over the Internet. Implementations, documentation, news, advertising, and numerous other resources available at
A set of language extensions intended to add concurrency to conventional programming languages. Developed by David Gelernter for his Ph.D. research at SUNY Stony Brook in the early 1980's and later refined by Gelernter and his student, Nicholas Carriero, at Yale University. Based on the notion of a distributed, associative tuple space. On-line information at Commercial implementations available from
The original functional language [McC60]. Developed by John McCarthy in the late 1950's as a realization of Church's lambda calculus. Many dialects exist. The two most common today are Common Lisp and Scheme (see separate entries). Historically important dialects include Lisp 1.5 [MAE+65], MacLisp [Moo78], and Interlisp [TM81].
Mesa and Cedar
Mesa [LR80] is a successor to Euclid developed in the 1970's at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center by a team led by Butler Lampson. Includes monitor-based concurrency. Along with Interlisp and Smalltalk, one of three companion projects that pioneered the use of personal workstations, with bitmapped displays, mice, etc. Cedar [SZBH86] is a successor to Mesa with (among other things) complete type safety, exceptions, and automatic garbage collection.
Purely functional language designed by David Turner in the mid 1980's [Tur86]. Resembles ML in several respects; has type inference and automatic currying. Unlike ML, provides list comprehensions (section 7.8), and uses lazy evaluation for all arguments. Uses indentation and line breaks for syntactic grouping. Commercial implementations available from Research Software Ltd. of Canterbury, England.
Functional language with ¡°Pascal-like¡± syntax. Originally designed in the mid to late 1970's by Robin Milner and associates at the University of Edinburgh as the meta-language (hence the name) for a program verification system. Pioneered aggressive compile-time type inference and polymorphism. Has a few imperative features. Several dialects exist; the most widely used is Standard ML [MTHM97]. Stansifer's book [Sta92] is an accessible introduction. Standard ML of New Jersey, a project of Princeton University and Bell Labs, has produced freely available implementations for many platforms; see
Modula and Modula-2
The immediate successors to Pascal, developed by Niklaus Wirth. The original Modula [Wir77] was an explicitly concurrent monitor-based language. It is sometimes called Modula (1) to distinguish it from its successors. The more commercially important Modula-2 [Wir85] was originally designed with coroutines (section 8.6), but no real concurrency. Both languages provide mechanisms for module-as-manager style data abstractions. Modula-2 was standardized by the ISO in 1996 [Int96]. A freely available implementation for x86 Linux (and moderately priced implementations for several other Unix variants) is available from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany at
A major extension to Modula-2 developed by Luca Cardelli, Jim Donahue, Mick Jordan, Bill Kalsow, and Greg Nelson at the Digital Systems Research Center and the Olivetti Research Center in the late 1980's [Har92]. Intended to provide a level of support for large, reliable, and maintainable systems comparable to that of Ada, but in a simpler and more elegant form. Extensive on-line resources, including pointers to both free and commercial implementations, available at
A deliberately minimal language designed by Niklaus Wirth [Wir88b, RW92]. Essentially a subset of Modula-2 [Wir88a], augmented with a mechanism for type extension (section 9.2.3) [Wir88c]. Implementations, documentation, and other resources available at
A concurrent language [JG89] based on CSP [Hoa78], Hoare's notation for message-based communication using guarded commands and synchronization send. The language of choice for systems built from INMOS Corporation's transputer processors, widely used in Europe. Uses indentation and line breaks for syntactic grouping. Extensive on-line resources, including pointers to several free implementations, available at
Designed by Niklaus Wirth in the late 1960's [Wir71], largely in reaction to Algol 68, which was widely perceived as bloated. Heavily used in the 1970's and 80's, particularly for teaching. Introduced subrange and enumeration types. Unified structures and unions. For many years the standard reference was Wirth's book with Kathleen Jensen [JW91]; more recently, the language has been standardized by the ISO and ANSI [Int90]. Freely available implementation distributed by the Free Software Foundation (
A ¡°scripting¡± language, designed primarily to automate operations on text files [WS91]. Borrows features from C, sed and awk [AKW78] (two other scripting languages), and various Unix shell (command interpreter) languages. Extensive on-line resources available at
A large, general-purpose language designed in the mid 1960's as a successor to Fortran, Cobol, and Algol [Bee70]. Never managed to displace its predecessors; kept alive largely through IBM corporate influence.
A stack-based language for the description of graphics and print operations [Ado86, Ado90]. Developed and marketed by Adobe Systems, Inc. Based in part on the Forth programming language [Bro87]. Generated by many word processors and drawing programs. Most professional-quality printers contain a Postscript interpreter.
The most widely used logic programming language. Developed in the early 1970's by Alain Colmeraurer and Philippe Roussel of the University of Aix-Marseille in France and Robert Kowalski and associates at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Many dialects exist. Partially standardized in 1995 [Int95b]. Numerous implementations, both free and commercial, are available. The AI group at CMU maintains a large Prolog repository at ; additional information can be found at
A small, elegant dialect of Lisp (see also Lisp) developed in the mid 1970's by Guy Steele and Gerald Sussman [KCR98]. Standardized by the IEEE and ANSI [Ins91]. Has static scoping and true first-class functions. Widely used for teaching. The book by Abelson and Sussman [AS96], used for introductory programming classes at MIT and elsewhere, is a classic guide to fundamental programming concepts, and to functional programming in particular. The AI group at CMU maintains a large Scheme repository at Another repository can be found at
Designed at the Norwegian Computing Centre, Oslo, in the mid 1960's by Ole-Johan Dahl, Bjorn Myhrhaug, and Kristen Nygaard [BDMN73, ND78]. Extends Algol 60 with classes and coroutines. The name of the language reflects its suitability for discrete-event simulation (section 8.6.4). Free Simula-to-C translator available at
A functional language with ¡°imperative-style¡± syntax. Developed by James McGraw and associates at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the early to mid 1980's [MSA+85, FCO90, Can92]. Intended primarily for high-performance scientific computing, with automatic parallelization. A descendant of the dataflow language Val [McG82]. Implementations, documentation, and other resources available at
The quintessential object-oriented language. Developed by Alan Kay, Adele Goldberg, Dan Ingalls, and associates at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center throughout the 1970's, culminating in the Smalltalk-80 language [GR89]. Anthropomorphic programming model based on ¡°messages¡± between active objects. The Smalltalk group at the University of Illinois maintains a variety of resources at Commercial Smalltalk implementations are available from several sources. Little Smalltalk, a line-oriented Smalltalk subset developed by Timothy Budd, is available for many platforms free of charge at
Developed by Ralph Griswold and associates at Bell Labs in the 1960's [GPP71]. The principal version is SNOBOL4. Intended primarily for processing character strings. Includes an extremely rich set of string-manipulating primitives and a novel control-flow mechanism based on the notions of success and failure. Implementations, documentation, and other resources available at
Concurrent programming language developed by Greg Andrews and colleagues at the University of Arizona in the 1980's [AO93]. Integrates not only sequential and concurrent programming, but also shared memory, semaphores, message passing, remote procedures, and rendezvous into a single conceptual framework and simple syntax. Implementations, documentation, and other resources available at
Derived from Euclid by Richard Holt and associates at the University of Toronto in the early 1980's [HMRC88]. Originally intended as a pedagogical language, but can be used for a wide range of applications. Turing Plus and Object-Oriented Turing are more recent descendants, also developed by Holt's group. Documentation and implementations available at


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