Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And I thought I was ambitious, trying to write a programming language!

My friend Oli has decided to reinvent programming as we know it. Details are still trickling out via his web-site : Semantic Programming. And I'm in frenzied skype conversation with him, trying to figure out what it's all about.

In outline, it starts from some intuitions behind the Semantic Web : that there should be a massively parallel, distributed graph-shaped database of facts (relational assertions) represented on different machines across the world. But it then layers programming on top of that. Instead of a passive data-structure crawled by scutters, SemProg agents (roughly, the servers which manage different data-nodes) are active. There is message passing between the facts themselves, and agents may have hardwired interpretation to act on some facts (what Oli is calling "axiomatic" understanding), or a "deductive" understanding (I guess rather like Prolog inference), and even a "behavioural" understanding via (I guess again) learning from observing other agents.

I'll keep following this here on Smart Disorganized. Very interesting if it works out.

Would GeekWeaver support Semantic Programming? It seems like Oli is thinking of multiple editors for different types of information, all of which compile down to the same underlying graph-structured format so that the data can be combined. (Rather like Language Oriented Programming.) It seems quite possible that GeekWeaver could output something like his graph-format. I'll certainly be experimenting.

I'm also trying to persuade Oli to look at Erlang as a potential implementation language for the distributed virtual machine. I'm increasingly impressed by Erlang. Finding it very powerful and concise.
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