[users] RFP: Really cool language now released as open source: Q'Nial

Jon Roland jroland at linux-migration.net
Sun Feb 18 08:31:02 CET 2007


Yes, the name is Q'Nial. That's not a typo. NIAL stands for Nested Interactive
Array Language, and the Q stands for Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, where
it was developed by Mike Jenkins and others in 1982, In 1982 I ported it to run on
the Fortune 32:16, then the leading Unix desktop machine on the market, which I
was retailing.

If you are interested in computer languages, go to http://www.nial.com/ and
download the binaries and documents, or even the source and compile it.

I am recommending it be packaged and added to some of the repositories for the
convenience of those who would like to try it out.

It is not just an academic language. It explores what is called array theory, an
alternative theory of mathematics to set theory (think of it as set theory with
more structure). But I have used it to analyze and solve several kinds of advanced
problems, involving graphs, queues, etc. It has been used by NASA to help design
the Space Station. It's widespread use has been held back by the lack of a
compiler, but now that it is released as open source that will hopefully be done.
We could also use a GUI front end and integration with an IDE. I am looking at
doing that with Eclipse.

Nial is a functional language that can be thought of as a couple of steps beyond
such languages as APL, LISP and Prolog, among others. It is especially promising
for AI applications.

Simple instruction: After downloading and unzipping the binaries, you launch it
from the command line by just executing ./nial. You will then get a message

making the initial workspace

and you are in the interpreter. To see it is working just key in

	1 + 1 <enter>
2
	
You just enter expressions and hit enter to execute them and display the results.
There is also a folder containing several sample programs, each of which has an
.ndf extension.


-- Jon

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