In response to a recent exchange with a fellow graduate of Calech who asked what I was up to these days, I just replied as follows:

Dear Tom,.

After taking a sabbatical from programming that ran almost three years, as described in


I have put on my programmer’s cap again. I am having lots of fun. See for example,

My main project is SPITBOL for Linux, which can be found at http://github.com/daveshields/spitbol-linux

Macro SPITBOL is the best-ever implementation of SNOBOL4. Few people remember SNOBOL4, though anyone who has ever called a library procedure named ‘span’ or ‘break’ is paying homage to that ancient language, as it established these terms.

SNOBOL/SPITBOL remains the best string-search, pattern-matching, language ever invented. It is also astoundingly efficient.

As best as I can tell, the available libraries/languages for manipulating strings, including pattern matching, are very weak when it comes to Unicode.

My current principal professional goal is to fix that.

I hope within a few weeks (months?) to add full Unicode support to SPITBOL, in a form that will allow the writing of apps for both iPhone and Android.

SPITBOL remains among the most powerful, as well as the most elegant — in a humble sort of way — programming languages ever created, and none to date has surpassed its expressive power.

Macro SPITBOL is also the *most fun* programming effort I have ever been involved in, going back to when I did the implementation for the CDC 6600 in the mid 70’s, and later, with Robert B. K. Dewar, as a co-author of SPITBOL PC, which brought the power of SPITBOL to the IBM PC.

Recent news has led me to wonder what our former Professor, Richard Feynman, would have said of the recent Higgs discovery.

Feynmans’s mind is still the finest I have ever encountered — though that of my colleague and thesis advisor Jack Schwartz is a close second.

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