Beginning programming question

Sounds like he has found the scripts to be deficient in some ways. I am not familiar with those products, other than name. They may have options that allow extensions, or the scripting may allow extensions, so he should first see if such are allowed and follow that trail to an appropriate programming language.
As others have written, a lot depends on the computer operating system he is using.
My favorites were also "C", assembly and for the old Burroughs medium system, "BPL". But in most cases I had to use what was available.
Paul
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I concur with Tom. It really depends on what you're trying to do or to whom you're trying to make yourself marketable. Visual Basic .net is a pretty good place to start. You can make programs that are very structured, or not so much, and it's pretty easy to debug.
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On 03/03/2011 08:35 AM, Ed Huntress wrote:

I hear a lot of good things about Python from people I know and respect from newsgroup postings. In particular, it is recommended for numerical analysis. I haven't used it, and I know it has some quirky properties (apparently indentation level has semantic meaning, which makes me shudder). But like I said -- folks that I know and respect from other newsgroups have mentioned using it, and have liked it.
So if his primary interest is things that will help him deal with data, and if he's got people he works with that he can go to with questions, I'd say that Python is a not-too-bad choice.
My next two recommendations would be general-purpose numerical analysis programs -- Scilab, which I use personally and can highly recommend, and R, which I've heard about and is specifically for statistics. Scilab makes it very easy to prototype communications and control systems algorithms, and generally unpacks into C++ at a ratio of ten C++ lines to one line of Scilab. R -- I dunno, but given that it's made by and for statisticians, he may find it useful.
One additional plug: if he does any control systems analysis as part of his economics work then he wants to look into Scilab. Scilab is made by control guys, and has a lot of built-in functionality that make it a natural for control systems analysis. (And yes, economists _do_ study control theory -- I had a coworker once who got introduced to control theory as part of her coursework for a bachelor's in economics. She decided that the control theory was so fun she ended up getting her PhD in mathematics, specifically in control theory).
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On Thu, 3 Mar 2011 11:35:17 -0500, "Ed Huntress"

Sounds like he's going to deal with very large data sets. If he's OK with m$oft, I'd suggest the data is kept in Access or Excel. Then start with VB.net or visual basic to work the data.
It does depend on what he wants to do, but the various flavors of basic are easy to learn and teach you programming concepts.
Karl
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If he really doesn't want to write programs, tell him Assembly.
Then he can look down from above on the rest of the coders.
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When I went back and go my MSAE the most usefull package to know was Mathmatica. How about Mathmatica scipt. The script is pretty much like C but the power of Mathmaica will blow your mind.
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Ed Huntress wrote:

John Larkin, who hangs out at sci.electronics.design, swears by "Power Basic." He says he doesn't like programming per se, so PB kind of relieves him of some of the details - it's "BASIC," after all. I don't know anything about Python, but it would probably be worth a look-see.
I've been known to hack "Matt's" perl scripts, for example: http://www.scriptarchive.com/wwwboard.html but I've heard that his scripts are really sucky when it comes to hostile people hacking them.
Good Luck! Rich
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Maybe APL. He can download J for free and see if it fits what he wants to do.
Dan
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Ed Huntress wrote:

Python is a 3rd generation scripting language and is pretty good. (Perl was 2nd generation, and Tcl was 1st generation.) It has its flaws (as do all languages), but it has a huge user community so there are plenty of books and forums to buy or visit.

If he is into statistics, R is what everybody is using.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_ (programming_language)
He should probably start with R, then think about Python.
-Wayne
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By far and away, plain old C is the most useful and durable, and code written in C will always be able to find a new home.
C++ is far more complex, so I would not start there. But all C++ compilers will happily compile plain old C, which is by design a subset of C++. (The development went the other way: C++ is a superset of vanilla C.)
Stay away from C# unless you don't mind being trapped by Microsoft.
Lots of business coding is done in Java, such as for websites. Java works, but is slow. Microsoft has their own variant, J#m which works quite well. Again, the question is if being entrapped in a proprietary language is a problem.
Perl, Python, et all are fine languages for what they do, but C/C++ is the heavy-duty language.
And so on. I made my living as a programmer for 20+ years.
Joe Gwinn
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On 03/03/2011 08:24 PM, Joseph Gwinn wrote:

C isn't an exactly subset of C++. It comes pretty close, and it comes closer yet if the C code in question is written with good style. Certainly if you say "All C++ compilers will happily compile C that is _well written_ to _modern coding standards_", then you'll be much closer to the mark.
Here's the story from the Stroustrop's mouth, with examples: http://www2.research.att.com/~bs/bs_faq.html#C-is-subset
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While this is true, it's far too deep in the details to matter in the present discussions.
In a sense, and to overstate the case, it's a bit like saying that US English and UK English are not quite identical, so let's learn Chinese instead. (Only to later discover that Chinese has hundreds of dialects.)
The newer C and/or C/C++ compilers tend to be more rigorous about enforcing the rules of the language than in the 1970s, which means that perfectly functional old code is often rejected by new compilers. There is a big debate in the programming community on if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm in the just-fix-the-errors-and-get-on-with-it school, but if the old codebase is valuable and huge, people just disable the warnings. I think all modern compilers have a single switch to return to the laxity of yore.
Joe Gwinn
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On 3/3/2011 8:35 AM, Ed Huntress wrote: snip

you can't go wrong with C, just read Kernigan and Ritchie and start coding - pretty much any language is like any other language, just some syntactic differences. If cost is an issue, use the VBA within MS office apps and write clever macros
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Bill Noble wrote:

Agreed.
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    It is more like a missing link between assembly language and a high-level language.
    Things like C++ have too many layers of abstraction, and result in massively bloated programs, so I tend to avoid that.

    Given his intended use, I think that C (for all that I use it a lot) is not the best choice. Among old languages, FORTRAN has massive math libraries which could help.
    Or for something somewhat newer and *very* math focused, APL is a likely choice -- though it does use a weird characterset to represent all the math operations.
    It is infamous for being a write-only language. You can do amazing things in a one line program, and weeks later not be able to figure out how you did it -- but the program still works.
    I've not taken the time to learn it, however -- I'm not that strong in math.
    If he were interested in artificial intelligence, the best language is probably lisp -- or at least used to be.
    Pascal is a good language to start with, actually, because it makes it very difficult to write poorly-structured programs. However, most implementations of it also make it rather difficult to make complex programs which deal with strings a lot. (I wrote a membership database program in it when I was learning it, and when I ported the basics of that program to C, it was *much* easier.
BTW --    with linux systems, you can usually get gcc (GNU C Compiler)     which also includes A couple of versions of FORTRAN and possibly     even ADA (A language written for the DOD patterned after Pascal,     but designed for writing serious application programs, not for     teaching as Pascal was.)
    However what you *don't* get with that Fortran is the ton of     math libs -- which are usually sold to mainframe users at     serious prices. You'll get a reasonable subset, but nothing     like the massive collection which is out there in the mainframe     world.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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wrote:

Thanks for the tips, Don. FWIW, Fortran is what I learned in college. Actually, I took a course, but never really learned it, because we had exactly two computers on campus, both of which were IBM 360s. I think it was Tuesdays that I had to turn in my punch cards at the computer center. On Monday, I'd get my output -- which almost always had an error or two. <g>
You could go a month or more getting one program to run right. That meant four tries. It's a wonder we learned anything then, huh?
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wrote:

I remember those days. I took it again many years later and was able to use a compiler that ran on a PC.
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...

I may have been one of the first computer hackers. I noticed a Doctoral candidate submit a stack of punch cards, two full boxes, to the computer operator for the IBM 360. I was punching up a large stack for my GPSS (general purpose simulation system) class. That person came back in only two hours!
Next day, I struck up a conversation and asked to see her header cards, I must have something wrong. Anyway, started using those mysterious codes and getting my runs back in two hours. I aced that class and was even recognized by the prof. as writing some of the best code he'd seen. Karl
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Heh, heh....I wasn't devious enough to do things like that. At least, not then. d8-)
That whole experience turned me off about programming. It wasn't until I got my first Apple II+ and started programming in BASIC that I regained any interest.
Then I got a RS M100 laptop and really started to have fun. I wrote a merchandise-distribution program for my wife -- she was a fashion buyer for 26 retail stores -- in assembly, which saved her and her staff 30 hours or so per week. So the company's IT department asked if they could convert it for use on their minicomputers. I said sure, and gave it to them.
But I had written it for the 80C85, using all of the commands, and they couldn't make head nor tail out of it. My wife continued to run it on the RS M100. <g>
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Ed, that reminds me of my experience with Fortran. I was working for a service bureau in Portland, Oregon. I had taken a Fortran class at the community college, so was given the task of converting IBM 1130 Fortran to IBM 360 Fortran to run on a model 40 machine.
Huge difference in the versions and the way each handled the instructions. The customer was using the programs to schedule the loading of logs into ships for shipment to Asia. Had to load properly to keep from upsetting the ship's balance in the water.
Finally got the reports to satisfy the customer, but when the 360 would print a line on the printer, all the lights on the console would turn on for about 3 seconds, then one line would print! The Model 40 ran DOS with three partitions. All would stop while the line of print was assembled. What a POS! that Fortran was when it came to I-O.
We never took on another Fortran conversion and never had another customer try to use it.
Paul
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