Feb. 15th, 2010

the SPIN paper, which we're reading for 712 (grad OS), drinks the PL koolaid:

"Our decision to use Modula-3 was made with some care. Originally, we had intended to define and implement a compiler for a safe subset of C. All of us, being C programmers, were certain that it was infeasible to build an efficient operating system without using a language having the syntax, semantics and performance of C. As the design of our safe subset proceeded, we faced the difficult issues that typically arise in any language design or redesign. For each major issue that we considered in the context of a safe version of C (type semantics, objects, storage management, naming, etc.), we found the issue already satisfactorily addressed by Modula-3. Moreover, we understood that the definition of our service interfaces was more important than the language with which we implemented them.

"Ultimately, we decided to use Modula-3 for both the system and its extensions. Early on we found evidence to abandon our two main prejudices about the language: that programs written in it are slow and large, and that C programmers could not be effective using another language. In terms of performance, we have found nothing remarkable about the language's code size or execution time, as shown in the previous section. In terms of programmer effectiveness, we have found that it takes less than a day for a competent C programmer to learn the syntax and more obvious semantics of Modula-3, and another few days to become proficient with its more advanced features. Although anecdotal, our experience has been that the portions of the SPIN kernel written in Modula-3 are much more robust and easier to understand than those portions written in C."



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