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 Post subject: Re: MUMPS FAQ Creation
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:04 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:14 am
Posts: 49
Location: Seattle, WA
Real Name: Kathy Ice
Wait, is the language called MUMPS or M? Why can't you make up your minds?

MUMPS was the original name of the language. During the 1990s there was a move to modernize the name, changing it from MUMPS to M. Some in the community thought this was a great idea. Some thought it was a terrible idea. The debate continues to this day.

The name has been officially changed to M, but many people still prefer the old name. Sometimes the language is listed as M[UMPS], which means “M or MUMPS” in much the same way that (s)he means “he or she”

Kathy Ice
Documentation Specialist
VISTA Expertise Network

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 Post subject: Re: MUMPS FAQ Creation
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:39 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:58 pm
Posts: 205
Location: Seattle, Washington
Real Name: Frederick D. S. "Rick" Marshall
Began Programming in MUMPS: 15 Jun 1984
Yes. The name M[UMPS] is a friendly insider joke that acknowledges both names in a very Mumpsy way. Here's why.

The syntax of the MUMPS language - that is, which sequences of characters count as MUMPS code - is described by a simple metalanguage that makes clear what a MUMPS programmer's choices are. It's based on the standard metalanguage used throughout computer science, Extended Backus–Naur Form. In the MUMPS metalanguage, the square brackets are used to enclose something optional. So by calling it M[UMPS] we're saying it can be called either M or MUMPS, which is what the MUMPS standard says, but we're saying so in a way that is familiar to mumpsters but slightly cryptic to non-mumpsters.

For the record, what the standard says is this:

M is a high-level interactive computer programming language developed for use in complex data handling operations. It is also known as MUMPS, an acronym for Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System.

The intent of the M Technology Association was that M would be the name of the language and MUMPS would be an alternate name.

That's where things stand. The future is likely to be somewhat different. :)

Frederick D. S. "Rick" Marshall, VISTA Expertise Network, 819 North 49th Street, Suite 203, Seattle, Washington 98103, (206) 465-5765, rick dot marshall at vistaexpertise dot net
"The hidden harmony is best." - Heraclitus of Ephesus

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