Lojic Technologies

My Top 10 Programming Languages of Interest for 2013-2014

with 6 comments

The End of Moore’s Law

For the last few years (since 2009), I’ve been pitching the idea to
my peers that language speed & concurrency/parallel capabilities
will become more important as CPU clock speeds plateau and
manufacturers add more CPU cores instead of advancing clock
rates. My 2+ year old Macbook Pro has 4 cores and
8 hyperthreads.

I, and many of my peers, program primarily in Ruby which is one of
the slowest languages, but is also one of the most productive. Even
though Ruby is often on the critical path (as opposed to the
database, network, ec.), with caching provided by Rails, more server
resources, client side processing with JavaScript, etc., the
productivity of Ruby has thus far outweighed the slowness
disadvantage (enter mantra “hardware is cheaper than developers”),
so I haven’t received much (any?) buy in from the programmers I hang

Programmer productivity will continue to be important, but the
question that I’ve been considering has been, “What if a language
provides the same productivity as Ruby, but much better resource

The minimum bar for efficiency is fuzzy & variable, but I’ve
nonetheless discounted any language below that bar. Except for R
which would be a special purpose language for me, I’m not
considering any language below the Racket/Clojure level of
efficiency for the future, and ideally the language has a good
concurrency/parallelism story.


“A Lisp for Functional Programming symbiotic with an established
Platform designed for Concurrency.”

Reasons for interest:

  • A lisp
  • Macros
  • Functional programming
  • Concurrency
  • Efficiency
  • Concision
  • Clojurescript
  • Community

Common Lisp

“Common Lisp is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming
language. It supports a combination of procedural, functional, and
object-oriented programming paradigms. As a dynamic programming
language, it facilitates evolutionary and incremental software
development, with iterative compilation into efficient run-time

Reasons for interest:

  • A lisp
  • Macros
  • Multi-paradigm
  • Efficiency
  • Huge standard library


“Go is an open source programming environment that makes it easy to
build simple, reliable, and efficient software.”

Reasons for interest:

  • C replacement
  • Efficiency
  • Concurrency
  • Systems programming
  • Concision


“Haskell is an advanced purely-functional programming language. An
open-source product of more than twenty years of cutting-edge
research, it allows rapid development of robust, concise, correct
software. With strong support for integration with other languages,
built-in concurrency and parallelism, debuggers, profilers, rich
libraries and an active community, Haskell makes it easier to
produce flexible, maintainable, high-quality software.”

Reasons for interest:

  • Functional programming
  • Concision
  • Purity
  • Advanced type system
  • Parallelism & concurrency
  • Efficiency
  • Monads
  • Community


“J is a modern, high-level, general-purpose, high-performance
programming language. J is particularly strong in the mathematical,
statistical, and logical analysis of data.”

Reasons for interest:

  • APL-like power with a normal keyboard
  • Array language
  • Concision
  • Big data


The language of the web.

Reasons for interest:

  • Only game in town for browsers
  • Compilation target for browsers


“Prolog is a high-level programming language based on formal
logic. Unlike traditional programming languages that are based on
performing sequences of commands, Prolog is based on defining and
then solving logical formulas. Prolog is sometimes called a
declarative language or a rule-based language because its programs
consist of a list of facts and rules. Prolog is used widely for
artificial intelligence applications, particularly expert systems.”

Reasons for interest:

  • Logic language
  • A new paradigm
  • AI


“R is a language and environment for statistical computing and
graphics. It is a GNU project which is similar to the S language and
environment which was developed at Bell Laboratories (formerly AT&T,
now Lucent Technologies) by John Chambers and colleagues. R can be
considered as a different implementation of S. There are some
important differences, but much code written for S runs unaltered
under R.”

Reasons for interest:

  • Statistics
  • Big data
  • Extensive statistical/numerical library


“Racket (formerly named PLT Scheme) is a general purpose,
multi-paradigm programming language in the Lisp/Scheme family. One
of its design goals is to serve as a platform for language creation,
design, and implementation. The language is used in a variety of
contexts such as scripting, general-purpose programming, computer
science education, and research.”

Reasons for interest:

  • A lisp
  • Functional programming
  • Continuations
  • Hygienic macros
  • Concurrency
  • Efficiency
  • Built-in web server
  • Concision
  • Can be small & clean
  • pg used it to implement Arc


“Ruby is a language of careful balance. Its creator, Yukihiro “Matz”
Matsumoto, blended parts of his favorite languages (Perl, Smalltalk,
Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp) to form a new language that balanced
functional programming with imperative programming.”

Reasons for interest:

  • Joy to program
  • Concision
  • Rails
  • Community
  • Primary revenue generating language currently
  • Dead slow, but lovable


I hope to decide on which of the three lisps I want to pursue,
determine if J can supplant R, and see if Go can be replaced with
one of the others, so that would leave six.

  • Haskell
  • J
  • JavaScript
  • A lisp
  • Prolog
  • Ruby

I’ve briefly researched Erlang, Factor, Lua, OCaml, Scala, Smalltalk
& Standard ML. At the moment, I don’t feel they should replace any
of the languages on the above list for subjective, practical and/or
technical reasons, but if you’re excited about those languages, or
others, comments are welcome.

Standard ML came close to bumping Haskell from the list, but despite
the nicety of SML and the advocacy of Robert Harper, I felt the
platforms (compilers, runtimes, libraries, etc.) were antiquated and
dividing/conquering themselves, so I couldn’t trust them to advance
quickly enough – particularly in the area of parallelism &

Update 1/17/2014:
For a lower level language, I think the D language is a candidate to replace Go. For numerical & statistical computing, I think Julia is a candidate to replace R. Lastly, I think other Scheme languages that are candidates to replace Racket include Gambit, Bigloo and Chicken.

Update 5/27/2014:
My final list of languages to spend time in, in order of priority is:

  1. Haskell, Racket & Common Lisp (concurrently)
  2. Julia
  3. J
  4. Prolog

Notably absent are Clojure (replaced by Racket and Common Lisp), Go (other languages on the list are efficient enough), R (replaced by Julia), JavaScript & Ruby (I currently use them in my work).

Written by Brian Adkins

September 27, 2013 at 2:21 am

6 Responses

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  1. Very interesting list! I’m also planning to do a study of the languages I will learn in 2014. For now, I’m going with Racket (platform for language creation), Go (as you said, C replacement), Javascript (browser games and websites) and Ruby (very powerfull metaprogramming capabilities and very productive). I need to read more about Haskell, Lisps and Prolog.


    November 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

  2. Why J and not K? K is a successor that is actually showing market share. (Thanks to the kdb data base — ugly, but VERY VERY fast.)


    January 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm

  3. @micha I wanted an APL-like language, and J seemed to be the best fit for what I was looking for with respect to array features and functional programming. I don’t think K is a successor to J. I also wasn’t fond of the fact that K is proprietary.

    Brian Adkins

    January 12, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    • From wiki: K is a proprietary array processing language developed by Arthur Whitney and commercialized by Kx Systems. Since then, an open-source implementation known as Kona has also been developed.[1] The language serves as the foundation for kdb, an in-memory, column-based database, and other related financial products. The language, originally developed in 1993, is a variant of APL and contains elements of Scheme. Advocates of the language emphasize its speed, facility in handling arrays, and expressive syntax.

      So, K exists in open source form, is a varient of APL. But I was incorrect — it’s not a child of J, more like a niece. (J is from APL, K is from A+ from APL.)

      Anyway, just curious. My employer, a hedge fund that does a whole lot of high bandwidth trading (don’t hate me — most of the money in question is gov’t employee pensions!) keeps our intra-day books and records on kdb, so we had to learn q, k’s latest dialect. Just made me curious about your decision.


      January 12, 2014 at 10:44 pm

  4. I am surprised you haven’t included Python. Your thoughts are appreciated.


    January 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    • I’d like to be as orthogonal as possible, and Python is very close to Ruby. I learned Python first, and then came to Ruby because of Rails, but I now prefer Ruby over Python irrespective of Rails. I think my preference is primarily aesthetic/stylistic, but since I develop a lot of web applications, Rails is a huge benefit.

      Brian Adkins

      January 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

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