Significant new inventions in computing since 1980

The Internet itself pre-dates 1980, but the World Wide Web (“distributed hypertext via simple mechanisms”) as proposed and implemented by Tim Berners-Lee started in 1989/90. While the idea of hypertext had existed before (Nelson’s Xanadu had tried to implement a distributed scheme), the WWW was a new approach for implementing a distributed hypertext system. Berners-Lee … Read more

What is referential transparency?

The term “referential transparency” comes from analytical philosophy, the branch of philosophy that analyzes natural language constructs, statements and arguments based on the methods of logic and mathematics. In other words, it is the closest subject outside computer science to what we call programming language semantics. The philosopher Willard Quine was responsible for initiating the … Read more

What is a Y-combinator? [closed]

A Y-combinator is a “functional” (a function that operates on other functions) that enables recursion, when you can’t refer to the function from within itself. In computer-science theory, it generalizes recursion, abstracting its implementation, and thereby separating it from the actual work of the function in question. The benefit of not needing a compile-time name … Read more