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I had another of those discussions with a desperate C addict. "If you want it fast, you have to write it in C", he said. So I replied with my standard "but surely if you want it fast you should write it in machine code (or it's more readable Assembler equivalent)?".

"True", he agreed, "but that is more difficult, and not many people have that skill nowadays". "Ah", I replied, "so you are not specifically saying write it in C, you are saying write it in the lowest level language that you can."

"Well, yes, I suppose", he said, "But that is Assembler or C". Of course, then I played the Fortran card. "But most high performance scientific calculation programs are written in Fortran".

So we now had the C addict going with Assembler or C or Fortran. "But, what benefit does C give in that list? It's not any lower level than Fortran, it's not any faster, and Fortran has many libraries for optimal speeds for special purpose computing".

"What about general purpose computing", he said, looking for some support, "even word processors need to be fast".

"Indeed", I replied, "but the lowest level languages are much less productive and much more error prone than higher level languages. Even assuming they are faster (which I don't concede), almost every project in the world will give a 10% speed advantage for increased productivity, lower maintenance and lower error rates."

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The conversation sort of died after that. It's the same conversation I've had many times. It's the same conversation that often results in "but Java isn't such a high level language, if you think that, you should be programming in a higher level language", to which I typically reply "I agree, and as soon as something higher level comes along that is more usable, nearly as fast, and covers as much functionality as Java does, I'll move to it". And in case you are wondering, I haven't seen such a thing yet.

Now on with the newsletter. We have our usual lists of Java performance tools, news, articles, and we also have a Java performance review of 2007; Javva The Hutt is back telling us all about his responsive Helpdesk; and, as usual, we have extracted tips from all of this month's articles.

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Articles

Jack Shirazi


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