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Thread: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

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    Default Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    In this Simple Talk interview with Linus (https://www.simple-talk.com/opinion/gee ... -torvalds/) he gave his opinion on assembly :

    " I don't think you need to learn assembly, but I do think knowing C is useful if you want to be a great programmer.

    Why? Not because C is some magical language, but because C is in many ways closer to the machine than most other modern and still used languages. And to be a great programmer, you really do need to know how the machine works, I believe. You need to really understand what can be done efficiently, and what needs a lot of work from the CPU or the system..."

    What do you think about this answer?


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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    That's a topic for a looooooooooong IRC discussion. "In general I agree" is the short answer. Especially because he uses the word "useful" rather than "mandatory".
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    Well, I fondly remember the days when I was an assembly language programmer. I probably wouldn't know how to manipulate IEEE 754 (or whatever the standard was called in the mid 70's) floating point values, write interrupt handlers, and lot of other stuff if it hadn't been for assembly language. Of course, I fondly remember punch cards and 029 keypunches too.

    Regards,
    Jim
    Last edited by jim829; 10-30-2014 at 08:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    Of course, I fondly remember punch cards and 029 keypunches too.
    And that first time you knocked out your wife with a club to claim her as yours.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    I don't think these youngsters know the feeling of anticipation of punching in a program (no backspace or copy and paste), dumping it in a card reader, waiting for an hour and then collecting the printout that showed if it worked or not.
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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    That would be a fair point towards assembly being useful to learn: it gives you a massive respect for how easy you've really got it nowadays. Even "do it mostly yourself" C-programming is relatively painless in comparison.

    I've been blessed to have just touched that era of programming, doing assembly to talk directly to hardware (but not card punching, I'd probably have punched a wall). It was a blast. I very time consuming and error-prone, "you break it you crash the OS" blast.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    Quote Originally Posted by gimbal2 View Post
    it gives you a massive respect for how easy you've really got it nowadays. Even "do it mostly yourself" C-programming is relatively painless in comparison.
    I tend to agree that programming in assembly may more difficult for some (or certainly more time consuming) than higher level languages. But I tend to be overwhelmed with all the options of what one has to learn these days. When I was in college there was no specialization. Everyone was required to take pretty much the same CS courses (which included as core courses compiler design, data structures, operating systems, assembly and some high level language(s)). Today, there seems to be a myriad of things to choose from. Even in basic computer science courses, I am not certain how they could squeeze in assembly and still cover the tools that are more prominent. Then there are server configuration, server programming and format processing (asp, jsp, xml, xlst) smart phone apps, oo programming in general, etc, etc. In one of my courses, I had to learn how to calculate disk seek times based on rotation latency and data position for variable and fixed length record retrieval (very IBM centric) and how to properly allocate for directory overflow when writing to disk. Guess how many times I have used that!

    Regards,
    Jim
    Last edited by jim829; 10-31-2014 at 04:11 PM.
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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    I agree. There are a lot more software tools that students need to learn how to use. They didn't exist 40 years ago. We wrote most of our own with code that ran up against the machine. I still have a tendency to want to write my own rather than use somebody else's software.
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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    Hey if programming ever actually becomes easy, we're out of a job ;)
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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    In one of my courses, I had to learn how to calculate disk seek times based on rotation latency and data position for variable and fixed length record retrieval (very IBM centric)
    On average a disk has to rotate 180 degrees to put the heads at the right position; therefore it pays back big times if you put the heads at the other side (180 degrees) of the disk; qed.

    kindest regards,

    Jos
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    Default Re: Linus Torvalds he gave his opinion on assembly

    If a track has n sectors and the time to read and process the data in a sector is longer than the time to rotate the next sector past the read head, reading every other sector will get the data off that track in two revolutions instead of one revolution per sector.
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