26 Oct 2011 chalst   » (Master)

C migration strategy
wingo asked, after summarising the safety issues with C:

I still write C. I work on implementations of safe languages -- languages that don't have the same kinds of fundamental vulnerabilities that C and C++ have. Eventually the amount of C in the world will stop growing, and decline as pieces that are now written in C will be written in Python, in JavaScript, in Guile: in short, in languages that don't launch the missiles when you try to write beyond the end of an array.

C has had a great run; we should celebrate it. But its time has passed. What is your migration strategy? How are you going to stop writing C?

I think the most conservative strategy is the best. I was impressed by Cyclone. I'm not sure the language is quite right for the job, and development seems to have halted some time back, but there have been alternatives proposed. I think Cyclone has shown that C can be modestly extended in such a way that we can statically for absence of undefined behaviours and many other desirable safety and correctness properties without nuisance or violation of the spirit of C. I hope that an obviously right safeness extension to C gets proposed and acquires momentum.

I actually had a dream about this, where I was reading a paper about an extension to Lua that allowed Cyclone+Lua programs to have whole-system correctness guarantees. I don't often remember my dreams, funnily enough.

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