MDL (programming language)

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MDL
ParadigmsMulti-paradigm: functional, procedural, reflective, meta
FamilyLisp
Designed byGerald Sussman, Carl Hewitt, Chris Reeve, Bruce Daniels
DeveloperMIT Project MAC
First appeared1971; 48 years ago (1971)
Final release
105 / 1980; 39 years ago (1980)
Typing disciplineDynamic, strong
ScopeStatic, lexical
Implementation languageMDL
PlatformPDP-10
OSITS, TENEX, TOPS-20
LicenseOpen-source
Influenced by
Lisp
Influenced
Planner, Scheme, Common Lisp, Java, Prolog, Smalltalk; actor model, interactive fiction

MDL (MIT Design Language) is a programming language, a descendant of the language Lisp. Its initial purpose was to provide high level language support for the Dynamic Modeling Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Project MAC.[1] It was initially developed in 1971 on a PDP-10 computer on a time-sharing operating system named Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS). It later ran on TENEX and TOPS-20.[2][3]

The initial development team consisted of Gerald Sussman and Carl Hewitt of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, and Chris Reeve, Bruce Daniels, and David Cressey of the Dynamic Modeling Group. Later, Stu Galley, also of the Dynamic Modeling Group, wrote the MDL documentation.[citation needed]

MDL was initially called Muddle. This style of self-deprecating humor was not widely understood or appreciated outside of Project MAC and a few other early citadels of information technology. So the name was sanitized to MDL.[citation needed]

MDL provides several enhancements to classic Lisp. It supports several built-in data types, including lists, strings and arrays, and user-defined data types. It offers multithreaded expression evaluation and coroutines. Variables can carry both a local value within a scope, and a global value, for passing data between scopes. Advanced built-in functions supported interactive debugging of MDL programs, incremental development, and reconstruction of source programs from object programs.

Although MDL is obsolete, some of its features have been incorporated in later versions of Lisp. Gerald Sussman went on to develop the Scheme language, in collaboration with Guy Steele, who later wrote the specifications for Common Lisp and Java. Carl Hewitt had already published the idea for the language Planner before the MDL project began, but his subsequent thinking on Planner reflected lessons learned from building MDL. Planner concepts influenced languages such as Prolog and Smalltalk. Smalltalk and Simula, in turn, influenced Hewitt's future work on the actor model.

But the largest influence that MDL had was on the software genre of interactive fiction (IF). An IF game named Zork, sometimes called Dungeon, was first written in MDL.[4] Later, Reeve, Daniels, Galley and other members of Dynamic Modeling went on to start Infocom, a company that produced many early commercial works of interactive fiction.

Code sample[edit]

The original source code for the mainframe environment[5][6] snippet shown below was downloaded originally from a Russian mirror.[7]

<DEFINE EXIT-TO (EXITS RMS)
        #DECL ((EXITS) EXIT (RMS) <UVECTOR [REST ROOM]>)
        <MAPF <>
              <FUNCTION (E)
                 #DECL ((E) <OR DIRECTION ROOM CEXIT NEXIT DOOR>)
                 <COND (<TYPE? .E DIRECTION>)
                       (<AND <TYPE? .E ROOM> <MEMQ .E .RMS>>
                        <MAPLEAVE T>)
                       (<AND <TYPE? .E CEXIT> <MEMQ <2 .E> .RMS>>
                        <MAPLEAVE T>)
                       (<AND <TYPE? .E DOOR>
                             <OR <MEMQ <DROOM1 .E> .RMS>
                                 <MEMQ <DROOM2 .E> .RMS>>>
                        <MAPLEAVE T>)>>
              .EXITS>>

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MDL Programming Primer MIT-LCS-TR-292" (PDF).
  2. ^ Galley, Stu W.; Pfister, Greg (1979). "The MDL Programming Language" (PDF). Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laboratory for Computer Science. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  3. ^ Lebling, P. David (May 1980). "The MDL Programming Environment" (PDF). Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laboratory for Computer Science. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  4. ^ Dyer, Richard (1984-05-06). "Masters of the Game". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 1997-06-07.
  5. ^ "Zork-mdl.zip".
  6. ^ Supnik, Bob (2018-06-04). "Software Kits". Computer Simulation and History (SimH). Bitsavers.org. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  7. ^ Supnik, Bob (2007-09-02). "Software Kits". Computer Simulation and History (SimH). Forum PDP-11. Retrieved 2018-12-18.

External links[edit]