[ Jocelyn Ireson-Paine's Home Page | Publications | Dobbs Code Talk Index | Dobbs Blog Version ]

The History and Benefits of Ada

I'm off to the Royal Statistical Society in London today to meet my friend Graham Stark when he talks about economic modelling at the Family Resources Survey User meeting. In Ada, we — Graham did most of it, actually — have written an economic model for the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator to help them decide whether prospective charities are entitled to become actual charities. A charity must benefit a reasonable proportion of the population, and if its services are too expensive, it won't do so. So as Graham explains in these papers, the charity must be "affordable". Stan's Super Gym and Spa Club wants to become a charity, but charges £600 a year membership: is that affordable? It's to answer such questions that we are using Ada, to analyse the Government's Family Resources Survey of family incomes, and hence work out what various kinds of family can afford.

As part of Graham's talk, I shall say a few words about why we chose Ada over C, C++, and Java. Three benefits of Ada that I shall mention are: portability; reliability, one aspect of which is Ada's extreme type-checking; and efficiency. Searching for info about Ada's history, I found this History of Ada site. Something linked from it that may interest readers is David A. Wheeler's 1997 paper for Ada Letters July/August 1997, Ada, C, C++, and Java vs. The Steelman. He compares these languages to see how well each meets the requirements for Steelman, the U.S. Department of Defense's final (1978) requirements document for Ada.

Not eveybody likes Ada. In B&D with Lady Lovelace, I cited the less favourable views of the New Hacker's Dictionary, as well as its comments on other languages.