[sf-perl] OT: New language to learn? Erlang?

Steve Fink sphink at gmail.com
Wed May 20 09:49:26 PDT 2009

Good question. I have a similar question, although my criteria are different
enough that I won't clutter this thread with it.

If marketability is your concern, you really can't beat knowing C or C++.
Not just to be able to do things directly in those languages (or more
likely, modify/work on existing things), but also because they'll complement
your scripting skills. Some of that is obvious: you can embed and extend
your scripting languages. But more important, IMHO, is the improvement to
your breadth of understanding. Someone who understands what's going on both
above and below the level of the script API has a chance of tackling a
vastly wider range of tasks. C is better for this purpose than C++, because
properly written C++ is a very very different language than properly written
C, even though you *can* write either in a way very similar to the other.

On the other hand, not knowing C is a good defense against being called upon
to tackle annoying low-level tasks.

Also, once you've gotten a good grasp of the low-level fundamentals, it's
difficult to let go -- you'll approach everything with the mindset of
needing to know what is *actually* happening down there. While that is good
much of the time, it turns out to be a huge obstacle to picking up
alternative high-level languages with very different ways of thinking, like
Erlang, SML, Haskell, or Prolog. So if you're up for it, it might be better
to learn one of those first and then C later.

And for a totally different suggestion, C# really isn't a bad way to go.
Personally, it doesn't do much for me because it's mainly usable on Windows,
but if that doesn't bother you then it really has a lot to recommend it.
It's seems to be much less of a walled garden than Java.

Going even further out on a limb, you might consider something like CUDA or
OpenCL. They're going to be more signficant in the future, and right now
there is far less competition for that sort of expertise.
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