Programming without math, part 11

On the one hand I’ve been working on this programming language that everyone can use. On the other hand I’ve been trying out different names for it. I suppose this might be premature. On the other hand, in some ways it can be hard to work on, or even think about, something without knowing what to call it.

At first we (my students and I) wanted to call it “Patch” — an portmanteau of “Python” (the popular programming language) and “Scratch” (the MIT programming language for kids). But Patch is not really a very appealing name, is it? It sounds for all the world like the name of a sad little rag doll lying abandoned at the bottom of an old toy chest. Not really a name upon which to pin the dawning of a new era of universal literacy.

I tried out a few other names — like “Monty”, to suggest a prequel to “Python” — but most of them were just plain silly.

By far the best I’ve come up with comes from the mantra “Programming is easy”. As an acronym, that spells “Pie”, which has a rather nice ring to it. Pie is a simple name, easy to remember, and slightly whimsical, but not too whimsical. It also emphasizes the analogy between a program and a cooking recipe, which is definitely good.

I particularly like the way it sounds like the beginning of “Python”. In a sense, learning Pie is the beginning of learning Python. Furthermore (switching now into shameless pun mode), Pie is well rounded and flavorful, something you can really sink your teeth into. It’s a peachy name, fresh, yet warm. Quite à la mode, as they say. Possibly half baked, but that’s ok — this is research, after all.

And of course, everyone knows that Pie goes well with Java. :-)

All in all Pie seems like a fine name for a universally accessible programming language, no matter how you slice it. Does anyone care to agree or disagree?

10 Responses to “Programming without math, part 11”

  1. dwnielsen says:

    Here’s some nit-picking that probably doesn’t amount to much, if anything.

    Short’s good (as in Huffman coding), but in this case it seems potentially a bit too short and prone to miscommunication – if it is meant to have universal appeal for those who also cook. The following dialogue’s in mind:

    “I was working in Pie.”
    “You were baking?”
    “No, coding.”
    “Oh, so why were you writing an algorithm to compute n*pi?”
    “No, the universal programming language – Pie.”
    “Ohh, Pie.”
    “Why are you saying ‘breast’ in Japanese?”

    Okay, ignoring that, saying “programming in Pie” requires a bit of a burst at the end to pronounce clearly.

    But a sort of association that might describe the Pie language came to mind, and I’m kinda proud of it (it’s 2am, so that fact’s prone to change): Euler’s famous identity might be written with the symbolic palindrome pie-0:
    The expression’s elegant and powerful, and can be considered in various modes of use – as might a universal programming interface.

  2. admin says:

    Very nice palindrome! It certainly reiterates the idea of a circle. My favorite math expression remains the classic form of Euler’s identity: eiπ+1=0, since it consists of the five major math constants and the three major math operations — a power expression if there ever was one. It would be ironic (but funny) to use something like that as the name of a language for programming without math.

    I remember when I was a kid and somebody would say “Pi r squared”. My mom would respond with a joke: “No. Pie are round. Cornbread are squared.”

    Which might tell you a lot about where my sense of humor comes from. :-)

  3. dwnielsen says:

    The circle connection didn’t even come to mind.

    Corny; like they say on the Simpsons, “r dr r !” :)

  4. dwnielsen says:

    Some notions derived from a forum thread related to pie (not as a programming language, though):
    Pie-rates leaking your software, or are those judges in a pie-eating contest?
    …and on his farm he had an interface – P-I-E I/O.
    Your file is baked into the pie and sent to a good friend in jail.
    Would McCartney’s “Honey Pie” or “Flaming Pie” would be the ad song?
    And Monty Pie-thon…

    Oh no.

  5. admin says:

    Ah, very funny. I like the fact that when I did a Google search for “pie language” I got this page.

    Also, it occurs to me that the conversational confusion you posit around the name “Pie” could equally apply to Python:

    “Last night I was going over some Python.”
    “The program?”
    “Yes, of course it was a program. What else?”
    “Well, it could have been one of the records.”
    “Python doesn’t have records — you need classes for that.”
    “They have classes for Python? I thought you just needed a sense of humor.”
    “Wait, how long have you known Python?”
    “Since I was in high school, of course.”
    “And you still don’t know about Python classes???”
    “I don’t get it. Wait — is this some sort of Python routine?”
    “Routine?? Python uses methods. Everyone knows that.”
    “Really? And all this time I thought they were just winging it.”

  6. dwnielsen says:

    Ha ha, well done! Specialized vocabulary, yes :^) – I’ve been running through job ads, and I find a (sparse) few that use very specialized acronyms (such as software titles in a certain field) that I know in another context, and it is confusing. At certain times, it’s a little frightening how well the blinders can go on.

    All words need the leading digits, as the Uncyclopedia you reference suggests, “For example, 3 means Bottle Cap, 3.1 has no meaning, 3.14 means Bathroom, 3.141592653 means any flavor of cheese, and so forth.”

    Maybe a good test is to just look at the acronym, and ask, what is the first phrase I think of that fits? In my case for PIE, it’s
    “programming interactive entertainment”
    “personal integrated environment”.

  7. admin says:

    Ah yes, so many possibilities. Here are a few more:

    Python isn’t easy
    Pi is endless
    Pastry is evoked
    Penguins incessantly expectorate ← Possibly insane expression

    And last but not least:

    Perlin’s idiotic experiments


  8. dwnielsen says:

    If your experiments are idiotic, you’ve more trailing your wake.

    The insane may be truest, but it’s a bit unwieldy – and didn’t the penguin movies release over 3 yrs ago? Are any more people using Linux as a result? Maybe not the best marketing strategy. I hear Zhu Zhu’s are popular: “puffy industrial electronics”?

  9. robert says:

    There is a programming system JPie being developed at Washington University:

    with the mantra: “Java Programming is Easy”

  10. Andras Kanegson says:

    Third baseā€¦

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