Is J poetry?

It is appropriate that poetry has as its root the Greek origins of ‘poet’ or ‘maker’. In this way the programmer making computers act in a specific way is a poet in the traditional sense of the word. This is especially true in the J language, where the the thoughts and symbols are so compressed that the language transcends verse and condenses into a shorthand haiku. The depth of the programmer’s understanding is shown by the chosen symbols, and the matter of style becomes as important in illustrating the problem to other humans as instructing the computer. A question often raised in programming J of whether it is better to use a tacit or explicit style. Tacit is compressed, can be analyzed programmatically, and has a simplicity that is inherently beautiful to me. Explicit programming and the presence of the arguments allow for control words that often make algorithms more comprehensible to the human reader and programs that can be easier to debug. Tacit proponents will argue this point exhaustively, but it is clear that as in any other form of poetry deep understanding is required to be able to make choices that allow clear communication, and the choice between tacit and explicit styles is not always an obvious one.


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