Why are programming languages different from natural languages?

Natural languages have been around for millennia. They have grown, evolved, spread, split into new ones or disappeared with the people that spoke it… Even though programming languages are much more recent, some are now in their sixties, like C, Lisp or Fortran. Most of the time, we think of developers more as scientific than literary people. But why then are they called programming languages, and not programming sciences? What are the connections and differences between natural and programming languages?

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The “no-code movement”: will programmers be put out of business?

In a way, no-code isn’t a new thing: ever since we’ve added GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) to our programs, or that we’ve created WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editors, we’ve searched for ways of making the life of programmers easier. Pieces of software like WordPress or IFTTT are different, yet they both have one goal in common: automate some menial tasks to take away the complexity and bring more people to the party.

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A peek at IPC and RPC / Coup d’oeil à l’IPC et au RPC

In computer science, we like to run programs. We write lines of codes that take in some input, feed it to a set of gears for computation, and spit out a result. This is hardly news. But what is not clear at first when you’re a programmer in training is all the complexity this sentence hides. To better understand this, let’s talk about washing dishes, doing some shopping and going to the laundry mat.

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Data & Security/Donnée & Sécurité #2: Asymmetric Ciphers/Chiffrement asymétrique

Last time, I discussed how symmetric cryptography has long been in use for transmitting secret messages. Despite all of its advantages, we did point out some problems with symmetric ciphers: they require you to safely exchange keys and some can now be easily broken thanks to the newest technologies in computer science. Today, I’ll talk more about the counterpart: asymmetric cryptography. I’ll discuss its pros and cons compared to symmetric cryptography and I’ll also give a very rough picture of a possible game-changer: quantum cryptography.

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Data & Security/Donnée & Sécurité #1: Symmetric Ciphers / Chiffrement symétrique

Today, we live in a world of data. It is great, because it helps Google perform amazing searches and retrieve exactly the info you want; because it allows Facebook and Instagram to show you news that are relevant for you; because it makes it easy to connect to hundreds of applications and enjoy thousands of new technologies. But, at the same time, some scammers are currently take advantage of the Covid pandemic to trick people into giving out info and money with phishing, possible medical data leaks from the French to the American government have been pointed out and there are more and more scandals about hackers attacking hospitals or banks mixing up their clients data and having them stolen.

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Automated discourse analysis / Analyse automatique du discours

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has been used in lots of applications. Its history is already paved of several milestones such as the golden years in the 70s, the fall in the 80s, the boom of big data, the rise of deep learning or more recently, better-than-human strategy game players. The past two years are considered by several AI prominent figures like Yann Le Cun to be the latest revolution in AI, with a focus on natural language processing (or NLP). Indeed, in 2019, OpenAI kicked the anthill once more on the topic of NLP when they released an AI capable of generating amazingly realistic text. They even decided to refrain from publishing the code – contrary to most of their projects – because they were worried it could be used to create fake news more easily.

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Exploring and traversing a maze…

A while ago, I mentioned that I was taking a deep interest into the “Advent of Code” (AoC) project by Eric Wastl. Since then, I’ve filled my dedicated Github repository quite a lot: I’ve worked on this year’s challenges both in Python and Javascript (Node JS), and I’ve also started to take a look at some challenges from 2018. Recently, one of the challenge was about maze exploration and traversal and it re-acquainted me with interesting algorithmic concepts.

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“L’Oulipo”: mixing maths and literature

In 1911, the French writer André Gide said that: “Art is born from constraint, thrives in the struggle and is killed by freedom” (personal translation of the original quote). Although some might disagree and believe that one should create in total liberty, others have decidedly followed this path to eventually come together as a group of writers and mathematicians called the “OuLiPo”.

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