Dijkstra on Ada

Dijkstra was one of the reviewers of the fours language proposals which eventually lead to the language Ada: red, green, blue, and yellow (the winning proposal was green). Here are some quotes from each of the reviews:

red

  • “the proposal is both advanced and backward in such an incongruous manner that I am baffled”

green

  • “technical incompetence, probably enhanced by dishonesty”
  • “I tried to reconstruct from the documentation a coherent design philosophy, an effort in which I failed: the mixture between sense and nonsense remained baffling”

blue

  • “the blue language is unacceptably complex”
  • “these documents are a inextricable mixture of technical documentation and salestalk”
  • “if we see a crazy argument, are we then allowed to conclude that the authors are idiots?”

yellow

  • “an unsalvageable mess”

In a conversation with Andrei P. Ershov (Soviet computer scientist), when asked about his view on Ada, Dijkstra commented that “Ada was such a mess that I shuddered at the thought that Western security would depend on it and that I would feel much safer if the Red Army were to adopt it as well.” [EWD1057].

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