Staking Claims: A History of Programming Language Design Claims and Evidence
Interesting paper I found on usability and PL, abstract:
While still a relatively young ?eld, computer science has a vast body of knowledge in the domain of programming languages. When a new language is introduced, its designers make claims which distinguish their language from previous languages. However, it often feels like language designers do not feel a pressing need to back these claims with evidence beyond personal anecdotes. Peer reviewers are likely to agree.
In this paper, we present preliminary work which revisits the history of such claims by examining a number of language design papers which span the history of programming language development. We focus on the issue of claim-evidence correspondence, or determining how often claims are or are not backed by evidence. These preliminary results con?rm that unsupported claims have been around since the inception of higher level programming in the 1950s. We stake a position that this behavior is unacceptable for the health of the research community. We should be more aware of valiant and effective efforts for supplying evidence to support language design claims.
I found this paper because I’ve been trying to answer the following question: is user testing performed on PL designs beyond the end-user kind. If yes, how is it done? If no, are we just lazy, or is user testing fundamentally inappropriate for PL design given the learning curves involved?