LXNY General Meeting
Tuesday 6 April 1999

LXNY will have a general meeting Tuesday 6 April 1999.

This meeting is free and open to the public.

The meeting starts at 6:30 PM.

The meeting is at the IBM building at 57th Street and Madison Avenue on the Island of Manhattan.

Speaker: Jacob T. Schwartz
Title: "Keyboardless Programming - a Current Goal for the SETL System"
Professor Jack Schwartz is a computer scientist and mathematician, an educator, a prolific and wide-ranging author, a popular speaker, an academician, and a former U.S. government leader. He founded the NYU Center for Digital Multimedia.

SETL is an elegant and powerful very high-level programming language based on set theory and available for GNU/Linux. Other very high-level programming languages are LISP (built on structured lists), APL (on matrices), SNOBOL (on strings), and PROLOG (on Horn clauses). Schwartz is one of the principal creators of the language. Some other SETL creators are principals of GNU NYU Ada = GNAT.

SETL deserves consideration by those interested in what are the best programming languages available for the Unix and GNU environments. The new wealth of memory and processor resources available has led to a revival of better languages that were less successful in their time due to these physical resource limits. LISP is a frequent LXNY topic; it is hoped that SETL will also receive renewed interest. [descriptions by Michael Smith]

What is the SETL language like?

C++ adds classes and object-orientation to C, so that the language has much in common with C.

SETL presents two aspects: it is a conventional programming language, and it is a mathematics language. Programmers of languages like Algol and C will find it familiar; they need little mathematical sophistication to program SETL. The mathematically-minded will use this conventional notation to program the abstract mathematical objects and operations that SETL provides. Thus, it is easy to express and manipulate functions, relations and sets. Both ordered and unordered sets are supported.

SETL is an outstanding language for many algorithms. SETL even provides assertion and backtracking facilities.

Sets can be of heterogeneous data type. Typing is flexible (weak typing), more akin to shell (scripting, command) languages than to lower-level programming languages. Sets (arrays and structs are expressed as ordered sets) grow automatically -- the programmer does not calculate bounds and check (and re-allocate) memory. So, two of the major burdens of programming are reduced or eliminated!
As if in support of this position, Larry Wall writes in his article in the April 1999 Communications of the ACM (v42n4), "If you're a mere mortal, two things drive you nuts: memory allocation and data typing. And everything from Teco to Java bogs you down in various kinds of arbitrary limits." (page 40)

SETL links

Bacon's SETL description, documentation and links (165,373 bytes) . Hummel's SETL documentation. You can run SETL live on the Web


[to be added]

Speaker biographical information


Jacob T. Schwartz
Professor, Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU; Ph.D. 1951, M.A. 1949, Yale; B.S. 1949, City College.
Major Interests: robotics and computer vision; computer design; language design; compiler optimization; non-numerical computation; operating systems. [End official] He has wide interests outside the field as well.


Includes these:
Schwartz, J.T., R.B.K. Dewar, E. Dubinsky, and E. Schonberg, PROGRAMMING WITH SETS: An Introduction to SETL, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1986

Dunford and Schwartz, Linear Operators

Schwartz, J.T., Introduction to Matrices and Vectors, McGraw-Hill, 1961, and New York: Dover Publications, 1972

Schwartz, J.T., Relativity with Illustrations, New York: NYU Press, 1962.


A computer CD-ROM version of his book on Relativity.
Founded the NYU Center for Digital Multimedia.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hired Jack as its Director of Information Science and Technology, where he decided on research projects. One of the projects he backed was the development of the Internet (aka ARPANET).

The NYU Ultracomputer

One of the major supercomputer projects. Schwartz was one of the principals.


Work on compilers with John Cocke.
The SETL system.
The LITTLE compiler language.


Numerous technical and popular papers.

Mathematics Educators take note!

Jack has a serious interest in the high school mathematics curriculum.

LXNY will meet regularly
the first Tuesday of each month at IBM throughout 1999.
LXNY and its supporters thank IBM for the donation of this meeting space.
LXNY also thanks those who,
inside and outside of IBM,
worked in favor of this gift.

The Schools and Libraries Project is today bringing free OSes and other free software into New York City schools and libraries. A brief report on the Project will be made. The Project stands in need of sysadmins, teachers of *n*x, and volunteers who do not yet know *n*x.

We'd like to have as many laptops running a free OS as possible at our meetings, since there may be people at the meeting who have never consciously seen a free OS in action.