Thread: Cobol v. Pascal

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    Cobol v. Pascal


    I'm a Computer Science major and have to take a course in either COBOL or Pascal, neither have every really interested me, so I was wondering which one was better(not necessarily easier or more fun) to learn for a Computer Science degree? Any comments or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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    Originally Posted by Nathan87
    I'm a Computer Science major and have to take a course in either COBOL or Pascal, neither have every really interested me, so I was wondering which one was better(not necessarily easier or more fun) to learn for a Computer Science degree? Any comments or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
    Depends on what you plan on doing after you graduate. Do you plan on continuing in science, or hitting the corporate IT business? Don't let anyone lie to you, there are many big corporate giants and smaller shops as well, still using COBOL for many things, and not many around who know how to wrangle it. If Big Business is not in your future, go for Pascal. Personally, I'd go for FORTRAN.
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    Originally Posted by Arty Ziff
    Personally, I'd go for FORTRAN.
    There's always LISP as well...
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    There's always LISP as well...
    LISP is no good, I have to take either COBOL or Pascal, it's a prerequisite for all the C classes.
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    If the prequisite is for a C class, then I would take Pascal, as it is much closer to C than COBOL is. While I normally would argue to take the more divergent languages, so as to get the greatest breadth of experience, for most programmers exposure to COBOL is like exposure to radiation...

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    well I already know C(I just got to take the course because it's part of the curriculum & I can test out of it), so I'm not so much worried about taking a language to prepare me for C, as I am taking a language that there is a good market for, or will help improve my programming skills as a whole.
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    Pascal is a better suit to traditional procedural and OO languages. COBOL is programming in English, very simple and straightforward, perhaps too simple

    COBOL Code:
    MULTIPLY WS-INPUT-AMOUNT BY VAT-RATE GIVING VAT-AMOUNT.
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    I would respectfully disagree, having been a corporate programmer in both languages.
    COBOL has it's place, and for a time to come, due to investments made by large corporations. Code is not simply updated because a new language comes into vogue, COBOL has seen off a fair few new contenders to the throne.

    Pascal is itself a learning language, and some of it's derivatives, still power commercial applications today, one of which I worked on was a forex quoting platform for a number of large financial institutions, though in most of those it has been superceded by newer faster platforms, but rarely driven by the banks request, rather by newer tech-savvy zealots in the banks, we looked to sign up as customers. Pascal was faster than the Java apps that replaced it. For the most part the language is immaterial, the resultant image or executable is what's important, and then comes the cost of support.

    Modula II was a derivative of Pascal IIRC, also Turbo Pascal/Delphi still power a number of applications on the Win32 desktops today.

    It's a case of what you know, versus what you need to know, I would agree neither are 'need to know' but if I had to choose one, i'd swing for Pascal
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    Originally Posted by Nathan87
    I'm a Computer Science major and have to take a course in either COBOL or Pascal, neither have every really interested me, so I was wondering which one was better(not necessarily easier or more fun) to learn for a Computer Science degree? Any comments or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
    I myself made this decision just a short time ago. I picked up COBOL because I work for one of the largest credit card companies in the world. We use COBOL for all of our transaction and backend processing. We have billions of lines of code in our system and it would be a VERY LARGE time/money investment to update our code. Yes COBOL is extremely easy but when you need a language that can process hundreds of financial transactions a second and is extremely dependable and bug free. COBOL is the head honcho in this area. Alot of big businesses still use COBOL, I wouldn't set the idea aside so easily.
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    Originally Posted by Axweildr
    ...For the most part the language is immaterial, the resultant image or executable is what's important, and then comes the cost of support...
    Hey Ax,

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding but I think language is very important. More than just the executable it has so much influence on how you think about a task, and how you solve it. All languages we're not created equal .

    Personally I'd go for COBOL because it's the least ordinary. That’s good experience .

    Mark.
    programming language development: www.netytan.com Hula

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    From a point of view of the owners of the code the most important issue would be cost and cost of maintenance, there's a reason colleges still teach COBOL ... I should have prefaced that

    my bad
    --Ax
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    The great thing about Object Oriented code is that it can make small, simple problems look like large, complex ones


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    Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.
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    I give COBOL a few years left yet

    I personally never got on with pascal, for simple things. The BEGIN/END, the fact they use `:=` for assignment, and the fact it doesn't have functions built in for most things you want to do. COBOL is interesting, it's one of few languages that enforce a program structure, and it's not all that hard to start learning (hey, look at Ax's code snippet). Of the two, I'd take COBOL. But then again i'd be learning other things outside of class too. I recommend three languages:

    -Ruby
    -Common Lisp (Mark and Schol-R will say Scheme, but it's all the same idea)
    -Python

    Python less, but there's a lot of code out there using it already, and it would be a nice addition to your studies. CL will mess with your head, but once you've got it, you'll be able to solve problems much easier. Ruby is just a pleasure to use, and has some way of doing everything you can imagine. One thing I should note here is that these are all interpreted languages. It's important to remember that compatibility and flexibility are infinitely more important than speed in all but the biggest apps (hey, most utilities finish before I can boil a cup of tea, suits me).
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    Before you get to that 'simplicity' you'd have to master the Working Storage Section, Environment Section, Procedural and I/O IIRC.

    The actual code is easy to read, but setting it up has a few nuances, now that I think about it , been a while for both.

    We used a Pascal program over 33K lines to create a language database, Cobol read a spreadsheet, and achieved the same result in about an eighth of the time, though I had discovered FDL/CONV on VMS at that stage.

    FDL/CONV, the ultimate file utility ... schweet
    --Ax
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    The great thing about Object Oriented code is that it can make small, simple problems look like large, complex ones


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    Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.
    -- Jamie Zawinski
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    BIT COINS ANYONE
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    Originally Posted by LinuxPenguin
    It's important to remember that compatibility and flexibility are infinitely more important than speed in all but the biggest apps...
    Lisp is a compiled language with some interpreters available. You can get some very good performance from Lisp (generally a little slower than C/C++) and the power available to you to describe your code is second to none .

    I like Scheme because it's very clean and light. It does lack a lot of features out of the box, but IMO this just leaves you with a better understanding of your system.

    Night night,

    Mark.
    programming language development: www.netytan.com Hula

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