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"Paul D. Stachour" <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 10 Nov 1996 20:06:25 -0600
text/plain (68 lines)
>Pat wrote (with deletions):
>
> Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive (pride of authorship and all that), but I
> guess my first reaction to Wes' comment is -- well, what language do you
> expect would come out on top most of the time if _all_ you are looking at is
> language ratings?  On how many criteria would you expect C++ or Fortran or
> Assembly to rate better than Ada?
>
Pat,
  At one point in my career, I served on a group which was to do an
impartial rating a 4 operating systems.  The objective was to choose
a system on which to do the development of a large, turnkey-style
application (The customer would buy a software-hardware combination.)

  We were given the set of OS'es to rate.
  We were given the criteria to use.
  We were told to evaluate each of those criteria, and give it a
     rating from 0 to 10.
  We were told to write a paragraph for each rating, indicating how
     we came to the rating we did.
  We were told to provide a weighting of the criteria, which was to
     add to 100.
  We were told that the biggest different we could have between any
     to criteria was a factor of 3.

So, we did the job.  We recommended one particular system. I will call
    the four systems K,L,M, &N.  Our recommendation was for "M".

We were then told:
   You picked the wrong system.  Go back and re-weight the criteria.

Note that we did not pick the evaluation criteria.  [If we had, the
   system labeled "M" would have "won" by an even wider margin, since
   many of the things that an OS should do were not in the criteria
   list.]

----------------------------------------------------

We tried.  But no matter how we weighted the criteria, or did the
evaluation, "M" kept "winning".  Eventually the group that had contracted
with us to do the evaluation said: "Forget it".  They went back and
did the work on system "L".

I agree with you, Pat.  If one evaluates a language on its ability
as a facilitator of what we know are good things for software
engineers to do, and the functions that should be in programming
languages that are absent in many (e.g., concurrency), it's extremely
difficult for Ada to *not* take first place, to "win".

Perhaps the "nay-sayers" are individuals who are like the group that
hired us to do the evaluation:  "They want their favorite to win."
And they get upset when an evaluation shows their favorite didn't.

At that point, some of their alternatives are:

  1.  Indicate that the evaluation was unfair or biased.
  2.  Ignore it completely
  3.  Throw "names" at the evaluation team,
       ....

Those of us who like to do good software engineering need not fear
any unbiased evaluation.  Sure, Ada won't be the best for everything.
But I continue to be amazed at how much other languages get used
*without any evaluation* and fail miserably in places where Ada
has been working fine since 1983.

Yours, ..Paul

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