Re: mu TECH: an unhurried digression on C pointers vs. arrays

From: Brett Castleberry (
Date: Fri May 05 2000 - 08:05:27 CEST

Alfie Costa wrote:
> On 4 May 2000, at 22:23, Miguel Angel <> wrote:
> > Ok. So using pointers is faster
> Maybe it is safer to say "sometimes faster"? We shouldn't rush to forget that
> the previous test always had pointers slower. It could be that pointers are
> only faster when there is a lot going on in the loop, or that it depends on the
> particular overhead of the loop itself. In my usage of pointers in 'hexd',
> it's uncertain, (without more testing), if pointers were any faster.
> > But I still have to recommend to use pointers only when this is a real
> > advantage against clarity (i'm very pascalized :-))
> Agreed. This is also one of the main reasons I like interpreted languages such
> as shells, Forth or even BASIC. They're slower, but the user can know more.
> In a way clarity is one of the best things about assembly too. When you say
> "MOV AX, BX", it means only what it says. It's almost as if optimizing
> compilers have the same disadvantages as complex windowing GUIs -- the same
> standardized user interface everywhere, but you never really know when
> something hidden going on backstage will surprise people, or require some
> unexpected new fee. Maybe that's not a good analogy though, so here's another:
> a complicated power tool can save time doing the job at hand, but sometimes
> maintaining or understanding the tool is much more work that having no tool at
> all.
> On this topic of tools that decrease leisure: I have an out of print
> translation of an essay by a German named Friedrich Georg Juenger, "The Failure
> of Technology". It's not obvious when it was written, though it's certainly
> 20th century and the US copyright is from 1949. Juenger, if I haven't misread
> him, seems to believe that all complicated tools make more work than they save!

You might, in this connection, want to read "The Dumbing Down Of
Programming", by Ellen Ullman:


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