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Donald Knuth. “Literate Programming ()” in Literate Programming. CSLI, , pg. I believe that the time is ripe for significantly better documentation of . Literate programming: Knuth is doing it wrong. Literate programming advocates this: Order your code for others to read, not for the compiler. Literate. What is Literate programming? Literate programming is a style of programming invented by Donald Knuth, where the main idea is that a program’s .

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In WEB one deliberately writes a paper, not just comments, along with code. In other words, the name of one macro can usefully be a parameter progrsmming another macro.

Literate programming

A holon is a “part lietrate a whole”. His page report was very philosophical for the first 99 pages, and on page he started with an example.

I may not be able to read your message until many months have gone by, because I’m working intensively on The Art of Computer Programming. Literate programming increases product quality by requiring software developers to examine and explain their code. Literate programming is writing out the program logic in a human language with included separated by a primitive markup code snippets and macros.

Again, I did this in the interests of simplicity, because I noticed that most applications of multiple parameters could in fact be reduced to the one-parameter case. The snippets of the literate wc above show how an explanation of the program and its source code are interwoven. The architecture and design is explained at a conceptual level.

The “program” then becomes primarily a document directed at humans, with the code being herded between “code delimiters” from where it can be extracted and shuffled out sideways to the progrramming system by literate programming tools. The simplest form of subroutine consists of progrzmming sequence of orders which can be incorporated as it stands knuuth a program.

A Survey,pg. There should be no restrictions on the order in which the program fragments resulting from this decomposition are presented, so that this order can be chosen so as to obtain an optimal exposition; this may even involve bringing together fragments whose location in the actual program is quite unrelated, but which have some logical connection. Neither type of language can provide the best documentation by itself; but when both are appropriately combined, we obtain a system that is much more useful than either language separately.


pfogramming Moreover, because an explanation in WEB is intimately combined with the hard reality of implementation, it is qualitatively different from, and far more useful than, an ordinary “specification” or “design” document.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This means that in the course of reading this book, you will read the full implementation of the pbrt rendering system, not just a high-level description of it.

Knuth: Literate Programming

Literate programming is a methodology that combines a programming language with a documentation language, thereby making programs more robust, more portable, more easily maintained, and arguably more fun to write than programs that are written only in a high-level language. The main idea is to treat a program as a piece of literature, addressed to human beings rather than to a computer. The programvolume B of his 5-volume Computers and Typesetting.

The system, pbrt, is written using a programming methodology called literate programming that mixes prose describing the system with source code that implements it. The litearte concept of code sections, indeed structured programming, is to reduce the amount of text that must be read in order to determine what a piece of code is doing.

He proposed a way of taking a complicated program and breaking it into small parts. Organize large source code files using an outlining editor Leo.

Modules have three parts: But as time went on, I’ve become extremely pleased with the provramming, because I think that a complex piece of software is, indeed, best pdogramming as a web that has been delicately pieced together from simple materials. Comment source code effectively with header and in-line comments. WEB adds functions which are specific to computer programs, such as boldface reserved words, italicized identifiers, substitution of true mathematical symbols, and more standard pretty-printer functions such as reformatting and indentation.

This concept proceeds from the work of Simon. Writing a literate program is a lot more work than writing a normal program. Often, some of the subtleties of an algorithm can be unclear or hidden until it is implemented, so seeing an actual implementation is a good way to acquire a solid understanding of that algorithm’s details.

This is illustrated by the following snippet of the wc literate program. For reasons of maintainability it is essential however that the program description defines the actual program text; if this were defined in a separate source document, then inconsistencies would be almost impossible to prevent.

The system should be presented in an order based upon logical considerations rather than syntactic constraints. Knuth also claims that Literate Programming can lead to easy porting of software to multiple environments, and even cites the implementation of TeX as an example.


This book presents a selection of modern rendering algorithms through the documented source code for a complete rendering system.

Errata For a list of corrections to errors in the first printing of this book, you may download either the errata file in plain TeX format bytes or the knuh file in DVI format bytes or the errata file in compressed PostScript format bytes ; the latter files prograjming generated by the TeX file, and last updated 12 Jun Of course, other computer scientists have made contributions to the field that are every bit as substantial most notably Edsger Dijkstra, Charles Hoare and Niklaus Wirth.

Elegance takes in such factors as readability, modular coding techniques and the ease with which a program can be adapted to other functions or expanded to perform additional tasks. My original idea was that WEB would be merely a tool for documentation, but I actually found that my WEB programs were better than the programs I had been writing in other languages.

But after gaining experience with Ljterate, I have come to realize that there is no need to choose once and for all between top-down and bottom-up, because a program is best thought of as a web instead of a tree. The grand totals must be initialized to zero at the beginning of the program. This book is a long literate program. Here are some software practices related to program documentation: By combining the two, we can develop a style of programming that maximizes our ability to perceive the structure of a complex piece of software, and at the same time the documented programs can be mechanically translated into a working software system that matches the documentation.

Re-think or refactor code which is difficult to understand. Then we had a student at Stanford whose name was Zabala-actually he’s from Spain and he has two names-but we call him Inaki; Ignacio is his name. The CWEAVE program is so named because it takes a given web and intertwines the TeX and C portions contained in each section, then it knits the whole fabric into a structured document.

The literate programming metalanguage provides two important features.