Lambda the Ultimate

inactiveTopic Introducing Continuations
started 11/13/2003; 8:23:54 PM - last post 11/18/2003; 7:44:42 AM
Chris Rathman - Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/13/2003; 8:23:54 PM (reads: 12635, responses: 12)
Introducing Continuations
Under the category of "applying pl theory to linguistics", thought this paper would be of interest to LtU. Along the same lines as Linguistic side effects, Chris Barker applies the programming concept of continuations to the dissection and interpretation of sentences in natural languages:

Programming languages such as Scheme allow expressions to denote functions on their own continuation. It turns out that this one device is capable of reconstructing most common programming control structures, including if-then-else statements, goto statements, for loops, while loops, the throw/catch construction, return, etc. Obviously, there is a strong analogy between such programming control constructions and quantification in natural language; for instance, the truth conditions of the sentence Every boy left can be rendered roughly as ‘Foreach x in boy {if (not (x in left)), then return (false)}’. The main idea of this paper, then, is this: if continuations can provide a unified perspective on quantification-like structures in formal languages, then perhaps they can provide useful insights into quantification in natural language.

Must admit that most of this paper is over my head (especially in regards to references to works by other linguists). Can't say that I ever saw a connection between those sentence diagrams I did back in school and the lambda calculus. Still I did find bits of the paper accessible and think at a minimum it provides a useful analogy of continuations in programming languages.
Posted to general by Chris Rathman on 11/13/03; 8:29:05 PM

Ehud Lamm - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/14/2003; 1:05:47 AM (reads: 694, responses: 0)
Didn't we discuss this one before?

Chris Rathman - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/14/2003; 6:43:10 AM (reads: 653, responses: 1)
Probably. After all, "Programming Languages" is such a narrow topic, we're bound to repeat ourselves every now and then. :-)

I did do a search both through the LtU and Google search facilities, as well as thru my topic index. Couldn't find it as previously posted. The paper is related to the work Ken Shan has been doing (he's given credit near the end of the paper), so we've definitely touched on the ideas within the paper. Mostly caught my eye with the "introduction" in the title.

Ehud Lamm - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/14/2003; 7:35:10 AM (reads: 656, responses: 0)
I meant this specific paper. But it semes it were other by Barker.

PL a narrow subject? No smiley is going to absolve that soon

Ken Shan - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/15/2003; 10:07:23 AM (reads: 548, responses: 0)
The connection between the sentence diagrams you did in school and the lambda calculus is that both are constructive proofs of the proposition that the sentence in question is grammatical.

Andris Birkmanis - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/16/2003; 11:53:31 AM (reads: 467, responses: 3)
...or that both are drawn by a person from our current culture. Isn't this a psychological question even more than a CS' one?

Both diagrams are drawn by people for people to describe some domain in terms of common knowledge constructs (ultimately, at least).

I think it does not matter that one of these domains is a natural language (or a metatheory of all/some natural languages?). What does matter is that communicating parties share comparable common language.

Think of messages people send in spaceships to hypothetical aliens - they are all pictures. Scientists who sent them are hoping that all sentient beings read diagrams. I wonder, why didn't they use UML (/duck, /cover, /grin evilly).

andrew cooke - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/16/2003; 12:44:32 PM (reads: 476, responses: 2)
am i the only person here that likes uml?

i didn't get it at first. but then i realised that the tool i was using (enterprise architect, which seems to be as capable as rational rose, but at a fraction of the price) was constructing an internal model.

each diagram is a view onto that internal model.

so you can look at different aspects of the system (different diagrams), but the tool makes sure that all aspects are consistent.

and you can show it to your boss, with some hope that they'll understand the basic idea.

i must admit, i've only used it a couple of times, and never for a large project. but i was impressed.

my biggest worry is how you do iterative development (i don't think the technolgy to construct diagrams from code is completely there yet) (although i did once try to construct some class diagrams from code, and the results were impressive, but rather embarassing, because my code didn't look that great (which i knew - the usual compromises - but even so, it was glaringly obvious in pictures))

Andris Birkmanis - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/16/2003; 1:01:07 PM (reads: 480, responses: 0)
As far as I remember, the bottom line was that most people on LtU (of those who cared about UML at all) disliked the strong arm policy of OMG. Or was it their idea to standardize diagramming? Not sure anymore, and I lost that thread... :( Personally I believe that UML is one of the good things, just not the best thing :) And I even lead an IDE project, which uses what you call an internal model to represent the application being developed.

So nothing is lost, LtU is a very diverse ecosystem :-)

Marc Hamann - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/16/2003; 2:23:28 PM (reads: 478, responses: 0)
am i the only person here that likes uml?

Personally, I think UML is perfectly useful as a relatively standard diagramming language.

I do however question those who believe that producing diagrams of any kind is always a necessary and useful step in developing software.

Jaap Weel - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/17/2003; 12:12:26 AM (reads: 440, responses: 0)
I highly doubt the sentence diagrams from school are the same as the Chomsky-style "X-bar" sentence diagrams. My school didn't use diagrams, but one of the oodles of other competing systems (systeem Paardekoper, anyone?). At any rate, X-bar theory, as well as competing linguistic theories including HPSG (Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar) can get pretty mathematical.

David B. Wildgoose - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/17/2003; 12:54:09 AM (reads: 433, responses: 1)
Might I suggest people look at the BON method (Business Object Notation) as an alternative to the "bubbles and arrows of outrageous fortune" (Bertrand Meyer), or indeed "Undefined Modelling Language" (Dr. Parnas).

UML is not the one true way, far from it.

Marc Hamann - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/17/2003; 6:11:35 AM (reads: 431, responses: 0)
Might I suggest people look at the BON method (Business Object Notation)

What advantage do you think it has over UML?

I certainly agree that UML is nothing special, but I'm hard pressed to see how ANY diagramming standard can be anything special.

So long as the reader of the diagram understands what it means, that's about as good as it gets.

Isaac Gouy - Re: Introducing Continuations  blueArrow
11/18/2003; 7:44:42 AM (reads: 354, responses: 0)
So long as the reader of the diagram understands what it means

That would be the problem with UML :-(

The existence of The precise UML group report on "the rearchitecting of UML as a family of languages and outlines a framework for constructing a precise semantics for UML that supports profiles and advanced tools" seems damning in itself.

(I wonder how much of this "The Architecture of UML" was addressed in UML2?)