pmuellr is Patrick Mueller

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

on naming

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© Patrick (but not me!)

Check out Stephen Wolfram's latest blog post, "Ten Thousand Hours of Design Reviews". In it, he describes how they run design reviews at Wolfram Research, for their Mathematica product.

The whole article is interesting, but the most interesting bit is in the second half of the blog post, where he talks about naming. He couldn't be more right about that; coming up with good names is hard, really hard. And he nails some of the tensions.

I've come up with some schemes to name projects, based on google searches on words with letter mutations. That's actually not terribly difficult. But those names are just labels; class names, function/method names, constant names, etc are things that can have a very long life-time, if you're lucky. Names that your programming peers will have to put up with. It's great to come up with perfect names.

Unlike human languages that grow and mutate over time, Mathematica has to be defined once and for all. So that it can be implemented, and so that both the computers and the people who use it can know what everything in it means.

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