Klerer–May System

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The Klerer–May System is a programming language developed in the mid-1960s, oriented to numerical scientific programming, whose most notable feature is its two-dimensional syntax based on traditional mathematical notation.

Example of a statement in the Klerer–May programming language

For input and output, the Klerer–May system used a Friden Flexowriter modified to allow half-line motions for subscripts and superscripts.[1] The character set included digits, upper-case letters, subsets of 14 lower-case Latin letters and 18 Greek letters, arithmetic operators (+ × / |) and punctuation (. , ( )), and eight special line-drawing characters (resembling _ ˘ ) used to construct multi-line brackets and symbols for summation, products, roots, and for multi-line division or fractions.[2] The system was intended to be forgiving of input mistakes, and easy to learn; its reference manual was only two pages.[3]

The system was developed by Melvin Klerer and Jack May at Columbia University's Hudson Laboratories in Dobbs Ferry, New York, for the Office of Naval Research, and ran on GE-200 series computers.[2]


  1. ^ Klerer, Melvin; May, Jack (1965). "A user oriented programming language". The Computer Journal. 8 (2): 103–109. doi:10.1093/comjnl/8.2.103.
  2. ^ a b Sammet, Jean (1969). Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals. Prentice-Hall. pp. 284–294. ISBN 0-13-729988-5.
  3. ^ Klerer, Melvin; May, Jack (1965). Reference Manual. Hudson Labs, Dobbs Ferry, NY: Columbia University.

Further reading[edit]

  • Klerer, Melvin; May, Jack (May 1964). "An Experiment in a User-oriented Computer System". Commun. ACM. 7 (5): 290–294. doi:10.1145/364099.364266.
  • Klerer, Melvin; May, Jack (1965). "Two-dimensional Programming". Proceedings of the November 30--December 1, 1965, Fall Joint Computer Conference, Part I. Fall Joint Computer Conference. Las Vegas, Nevada: ACM. pp. 63–75. doi:10.1145/1463891.1463897.
  • Klerer, Melvin; Grossman, Fred (November 1967). "Further Advances in Two-dimensional Input-output by Typewriter Terminals". Proceedings of the November 14–16, 1967, Fall Joint Computer Conference. Fall Joint Computer Conference. Anaheim, California: ACM. pp. 675–687. doi:10.1145/1465611.1465701.