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Ruby and Your Brain

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In this video, presented at the December 2008 Kyushu Ruby Kaigi in Fukuoka, Japan, Andy Hunt talks about his new book, Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, the nature of expertise, and issues in cognition and neuroscience that are important to software developers.  He takes a quick look at how the brain works, and how the Ruby programming language, for instance, fits in with a healthy and pragmatic model of thinking and learning.

 Below is an excerpt from the first part of the presentation --

“Back at the turn of the century, Dave Thomas and I were working on a project with a friend. It was one of those situations where the requirements were not really known and had to be discovered as the project went along.  The piece I was working on was particularly experimental so flexibility was key. We were looking for a language where we could develop features really quickly without too much fuss or overhead. I had tried to learn Python several times and just never really liked it. I bought a nutshell book and each time I would get maybe 20 or 30 pages into the book and found some aspect of Python that I just really couldn’t stand.

So I put Python away and continued looking for a language that would do what I wanted. I couldn’t really find anything that suited me, so I ended up developing a large object-oriented program using object-oriented Perl. It was a pretty clumsy affair at the time, but it did show the power of this kind of approach. Here I had the flexibility of an interpreted language with easy access to the operating system. And I could design using objects. It was very much ‘do-it-yourself’ object-orientation, sort of like programming OO in Assembly language.  It worked, but we knew there had to be a better way…

… People will argue quite violently over their most favorite programming language, often perceiving their favorite as the only, or best, and any other option as ‘pure evil.’ But this doesn’t often doesn’t lead to the healthiest of discussions. It seems we take the choice of programming language, quite personally.

In the course of researching and writing my new book, ‘Pragmatic Thinking & Learning,’ I discovered a number of interesting things about the brain, and cognition, some of which explains why we take programming languages so personally. I’ll share a few of these ideas with you here (in this presentation)…”


Published at DZone with permission of its author, Nitin Bharti.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Jeroen Wenting replied on Mon, 2009/02/16 - 1:51am

I've always found that Ruby turns my brain to mush...

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