It occurred to me today that there was a language I'd heard about before that sounded a lot like Perl. I looked it up, and sure enough, it sounded just like someone in 1967 describing Perl. Try to guess what language is really being described:


PERL (Practical Extraction and Report Language) is a programming language developed with the intention of combining features of commercial languages (such as COBOL) and scientific languages (such as ALGOL). Commercial applications with their emphasis on efficient handling of large volumes of data have led to the development of languages with sophisticated input/output facilities; scientific problems with their emphasis on rapid definitions and description of complex problems have led to the development of highly sophisticated algorithmic languages while neglecting the data handling aspects. PERL aims at combining the problem-solving facility of scientific languages with the data-handling capabilities of commercial languages, in order to meet the needs of increasingly mathematical commercial analysis and increasingly large volumes of data being processed by scientific routines. Among the more important features of PERL are the following:

  1. The language is modular in structure. This means that the user need only master the set of facilities necessary for his programming needs. More complex problems can use more extensive subsets of the language.
  2. The language has a `default' feature by which every error or unspecified option is given a valid interpretation, thus minimizing the effects of programming errors.
  3. The language structure is `free form'. No special documents are needed for coding, since the significance of each statement depends on its own format and not on its position within a fixed framework.

An example of PERL is given below; it is a routine designed to read the maximum and minimum temperature for each day of the week.

(Example omitted; it might give too much away. You can see it after you guess. -MJD)

What language is really being described here?

(Or just leave it blank; I don't care.)

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