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PLDB: A Programming Language Database

A brief interview with Mu creator Dr. Kartik Agaram


Dr. Kartik Agaram is a professional programmer by day and the author of several open source projects that try to demystify computers. His projects all show a great love for programming and empathy for readers grappling with a strange codebase.


Hassam: What problem is Mu attempting to solve?

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A brief interview with Pascal and Oberon creator Dr. Niklaus Wirth


November 18, 2022 — Niklaus Wirth has designed programming languages all over the world that have had immense impact. And yet, he still maintains great humility and somehow finds time for mentoring the next crop of programming language designers. Thank you for your time Dr. Wirth!


Hassam: Are there any novel ideas from your languages that have yet to be adopted by others?

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A brief interview with AWK creator Dr. Brian Kernighan


November 15, 2022 — Dr. Brian Kernighan is a Canadian computer scientist who contributed to the development of UNIX at Bell Labs. Along with Dennis Richie, he co-authored a fundamental book on C, The C Programming Language. He has been training the next generation of programmers at Princeton University since 2000 and has been monumental in his contribution to the computer science community at large. He wrote the first documented “Hello World!” program and to that we say, “Hello, Brian!”.


Hassam: Are there any novel ideas from Awk that have yet to be adopted by others?

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A brief interview with Common Lisp creator Dr. Scott Fahlman


November 11, 2022 — Dr. Scott Fahlman is a Professor Emeritus in the Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. He is a computer programming language connoisseur and the original neural network jedi master. He was one of the core developers of the Common Lisp Language and his current work includes Artificial Intelligence. Dr Fahlman is as notably kind as he is a humble scientist. Befittingly, he is the originator of the internet's first emoticon, sideway smile :-)


Hassam: Are there any neat ideas from Lisp that have yet to go mainstream?

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Where are the most programming languages created?

scottFalhmanInterview.html · originCountries11-3-2022.html · number-of-programming-languages.html

November 2022 Edition

November 3, 2022 —

The above SVG is also available as a png.

The code for the visualization above was written in the Explorer language.

You can export the data using this Ohayo script:

Analyze this data yourself in Ohayo

Previous posts in this series

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What is the growth in programming languages over time?

originCountries11-3-2022.html · number-of-programming-languages.html · languages-of-the-year-1972-2022.html

September 2, 2022 —

The above SVG is also available as a png.

The code for the visualization above was written in the Explorer language.

View source

Languages of the year: 1972 - 2022

number-of-programming-languages.html · languages-of-the-year-1972-2022.html · the-one-letter-programming-languages.html

July 21, 2022 — 1995 was an exceptional year for programming languages: Java, Javascript, PHP and Ruby were all created in 1995. I was curious what the top language was for each of the past 50 years.

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The One Letter Programming Languages

languages-of-the-year-1972-2022.html · the-one-letter-programming-languages.html · print-debugging-in-over-300-languages.html

July 16, 2022 — C and R are two famous programming languages whose name is a single letter. In an effort to retire this practice (😉), I've made an infographic to show that all the letters are taken.

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"print() debugging" in over 300 languages

the-one-letter-programming-languages.html · print-debugging-in-over-300-languages.html · a-language-without-comments.html

July 15, 2022 — Paul Graham—creator of Arc and Bel—started an interesting thread last month about "print() debugging".

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A Language Without Comments

print-debugging-in-over-300-languages.html · a-language-without-comments.html · does-every-programming-language-support-line-comments.html

July 14, 2022 — JSON is the only popular language in the PLDB without comments.

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Does every programming language have line comments?

a-language-without-comments.html · does-every-programming-language-support-line-comments.html · hello-world-year-5.html

July 13, 2022 — About 85% of the languages in PLDB have line comments.

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The New PLDB

does-every-programming-language-support-line-comments.html · hello-world-year-5.html · hello-world-year-3.html

June 23, 2022 — I started PLDB 1,681 days ago(~4.5 years). After a big lull, I am excited to announce the new release!

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Hello, world...year 3!

hello-world-year-5.html · hello-world-year-3.html · how-many-major-global-programming-competitions-are-there.html

November 18, 2019 — I started PLDB 2 year ago today! Since that time:

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How many major global programming competitions are there?

hello-world-year-3.html · how-many-major-global-programming-competitions-are-there.html · how-many-programmers-are-there-in-the-world.html

September 7, 2019 — I have done many problems on Project Euler but I've never participated in competitive programming. The other day I got curious, what does the competitive programming landscape look like?

I started my quest by watching a great interview with a competitive programmer. Then I did some searching. Below are my results.

There are 16 major programming competitions

The first one started in 1970. A few of the newer ones are online only.

Most of them started or are hosted in the USA

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How many programmers are there in the world?

how-many-major-global-programming-competitions-are-there.html · how-many-programmers-are-there-in-the-world.html · does-every-programming-language-have-a-central-package-repository.html

May 29, 2019 — There are around 7.574 billion people in the world. How many of them are programmers?

The answer, of course, depends on how you define "programmer". But before I define "programmer" and share my estimates, let's look at what some other sources say.

What do other people say?

GitHub - 36 million developer accounts

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Does every programming language have a central package repository?

how-many-programmers-are-there-in-the-world.html · does-every-programming-language-have-a-central-package-repository.html · which-programming-languages-use-indentation.html

February 7, 2019 — Like millions of other programmers, every day I depend on central package repositories (CR) like npm, PyPI and CRAN.

The other day I was curious: does every programming language have one of these? I decided to find out. I pointed my crawler and trained a model to check for a package repository for every one of the 3,006 languages I am tracking. The results surprised me.

★ Only 1% have them

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Which programming languages use indentation?

does-every-programming-language-have-a-central-package-repository.html · which-programming-languages-use-indentation.html · hello-world-year-2.html

January 24, 2019 — Python, as one of the top 10 programming languages in the world, is the most popular programming language that treats indentation as significant. In these offside languages, programmers indent their code blocks instead of using braces, brackets, or other visible characters.

I was curious about how common these languages were so I did some brief analysis to answer these questions:

1) Fewer than 2% of programming languages have significant indentation

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Hello, world...year 2!

which-programming-languages-use-indentation.html · hello-world-year-2.html · when-did-github-become-the-place-to-create-new-programming-languages.html

November 18, 2018 — I started PLDB 1 year ago today! Since that time:

Unfortunately the number of articles on PLDB is 9 (counting this one). Limited time and resources has meant building up the dataset took priority. Hopefully the next year will see a lot of growth in number of posts!

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When did GitHub become the place to host new programming language projects?

hello-world-year-2.html · when-did-github-become-the-place-to-create-new-programming-languages.html · what-letter-should-your-language-start-with.html

November 9, 2018 — Before GitHub started in 2008, the source code for nascent programming languages was stored in a variety of places. In the early days it was physical media; later on it was publicly accessible servers; and even later it started moving to online source control systems like self-hosted SVN servers or Sourceforce.

But nowadays new language creation happens on GitHub more than anywhere else. Of the 44 languages created in 2008 that I track, 7% were put on GitHub that same year. Last year it was over 50%.

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What letters do programming languages start with?

when-did-github-become-the-place-to-create-new-programming-languages.html · what-letter-should-your-language-start-with.html · what-is-the-growth-in-programming-languages-over-time.html

October 28, 2018 — As the chart below shows, the number of programming languages beginning with a certain letter varies as much as 10x by letter.

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What is the growth in programming languages over time?

what-letter-should-your-language-start-with.html · what-is-the-growth-in-programming-languages-over-time.html · what-are-the-best-programming-language-visualizations.html

December 12, 2017 — As I build up my database of programming languages I hope to be able to answer questions like:

At the moment I am tracking 533 computer languages and I currently have creation years for more than half of those, including for 271 of the most popular ones.

Here is a simple line graph of the cumulative number of languages I have by year.

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What are the best programming language visualizations?

what-is-the-growth-in-programming-languages-over-time.html · what-are-the-best-programming-language-visualizations.html · how-many-web-apis-are-there-in-the-world.html

December 11, 2017 — I was looking to spruce up the walls with some interesting posters and found a few well designed visuals.

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How Many Web APIs are there in the World?

what-are-the-best-programming-language-visualizations.html · how-many-web-apis-are-there-in-the-world.html · how-many-programming-languages-are-there-in-the-world.html

November 25, 2017 — Last week I explored the question "how many programming languages are there in the world?". My current estimate is between 5,000 and 25,000 active computer languages.

But perhaps the number is higher, if you include all active external web APIs.

What do other people say?

Programmable Web - 18,409

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How Many Programming Languages are there in the World?

how-many-web-apis-are-there-in-the-world.html · how-many-programming-languages-are-there-in-the-world.html · hello-world.html

November 20, 2017 — ~7,099 spoken languages exist. But how many programming languages exist?

This is one of the questions I aim to answer with PLDB. I am building a comprehensive database of programming languages.

Spoken languages vary widely in popularity. For example. English has 1.5 billion total speakers and 375 million native speakers. Hawaiian, an endangered language, has only ~26,000 native speakers.

Similarly, some programming languages are very popular, others are used moderately, and many are completely abandoned. Javascript may be the most popular programming language, with approximately ~5.3 million LinkedIn users claiming it as a skill.

The number of programming languages in the world depends on the rules you establish for deciding whether or not a language counts.

What do other people say?

TIOBE - 250

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Hello, world!

how-many-programming-languages-are-there-in-the-world.html · hello-world.html · kartik.html

November 18, 2017 — Welcome to PLDB: a Programming Language Database!

The goal of this site is to build a comprehensive database of programming languages and their common features.

This site is for two types of people:

1. The general programmer. I want to analyze my data to make comprehensible the world of programming languages for you and provide sound strategic and tactical advice to help you in your projects and your career. If you have a question not answered by this site, open an issue and explain what you need.

2. The programming language designer. I want to build a research tool for you so you have quick access to comprehensive data on features in programming languages, to help you make design decisions as you design your own languages. If you need more information on a design pattern not on this site, open an issue and explain what you need.

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PLDB - Build the next great programming language · v2022 · Day 90 · Docs · Build · Acknowledgements · Traffic Today · Traffic Trends · Mirrors · GitHub ·