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0 Introduction and Basics

0 Introduction and Basics

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Published by: sbk123 on Nov 10, 2009
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Open sesame!- The History of Ali Baba
0.0 C - An Overview
C is one of the widely used languages. It is a very powerful language suitable forsystem programming tasks like writing operating systems and compilers. For example,the operating systems UNIX and OS/2 are written in C and when speaking aboutcompilers its easy to list out the compilers that are
written in C! Although it wasoriginally designed as systems programming language, it is used in wide range of applications. It is used in the embedded devices with just 64-KB of memory and is alsoused in super computers and parallel computers that run at un-imaginable speeds. C andits successor C++ cover most of the programming areas and are predominant languagesin the world of programming.To put in the words of the creator of C++ Bjarne Stroustrup
“C is clearly not the cleanest language ever designed nor the easiest to use, sowhy do many people use it?It is flexible [to apply to any programming area]…It is efficient [due to low-level semantics of the language]…
It is available [due to availability of C compilers in essentially every platform]…It is portable [can be executed on multiple platforms, even though the language hasmany non-portable features]…”.C is a language for programmers and scientists and not for beginners and learners.So it’s naturally the language of choice for them most of the times.C is not a perfectly designed language. For example few of the operator precedenceare wrong. But the effect is irreversible and the same operator precedence continues to beeven in newer C based languages.C concentrates on convenience, writability
, workability and efficiency to safetyand readability. This is the secret of its widespread success. Lets see a classic example forsuch code:
void strcpy(char *t, char *s){while(*t++ = *s++) ;}
This code has less readability. It is curt and to the point. It is efficient (compared tothe ‘obvious’ implementation). It gives power to the programmer. It is not verbose…C is thus a language for the programmers by the programmers and that is the basicreason why it is so successful.C is different from other programming languages by its design objectives itself and this fact is reflected in its standardization process also.
Some of the facets of thespirit of C can be summarized in phrases like
[Rationale ANSI C 1999]
• Trust the programmer.• Don’t prevent the programmer from doing what needs to be done.• Keep the language small and simple.Make it fast, even if it is not guaranteed to be portable.
Understanding this design philosophy may help you understand some puzzling details of whyC is like this in its present form.Point to Ponder:
C is an attitude!
0.1 Briefhistory ofC language
There is no such jargon as ‘writability’ and here I refer it to as the ability to write programs lucidly

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