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The Most Important C++ People...Ever

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Bill Venners

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The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 30, 2006 2:30 PM
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In this article, Scott Meyers shares his picks for the five most important people in the history of C++, along with why he chose them.

http://www.artima.com/cppsource/top_cpp_people.html

What do you think of Scott's choices? Who else do you feel has been important in the history of C++, and why?


Christopher Diggins

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 30, 2006 3:10 PM
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> In this article, Scott Meyers shares his picks for the
> five most important people in the history of C++, along
> with why he chose them.
>
> http://www.artima.com/cppsource/top_cpp_people.html
>
> What do you think of Scott's choices? Who else do you feel
> has been important in the history of C++, and why?

I'd have dropped Scott and added Stepanov.

Bob Dobalina

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Registered: Apr, 2005

Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 30, 2006 9:40 PM
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I agree - Alexander Stepanov wrote the STL, that's more significant than someone who explained or championed it (however well)

Siddhartha Singh

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 1:37 AM
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I somehow agree and disagree : Stepanov and Scott are at same point I think :)
:)
Siddhartha

Parveen Kaler

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 3:36 AM
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In addition to Stepanov, how about David Abrahams and PJ Plauger. And you can't forget the forefathers of C (Kernighan, Ritchie, etc).

Roland Pibinger

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 5:00 AM
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In second place behind Stroustrup I'd put The Humble Programmer. He has kept C++ alive for so long despite its numerous deficits.

BTW, after so much self-adulation why not continue the series with "The Most Important C++ Failures...Ever". Candidates are (among others):
- Standard compliance of compilers
- binary compatibility
- module support (lack of)
- 'C++ will absorb C'
- multi-paradigm induced complexity
- templates
- MFC
- STL
- BOOST
- ...

Achilleas Margaritis

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 5:13 AM
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What is the point of all these 'most important' articles?

Roland Pibinger

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 7:09 AM
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> What is the point of all these 'most important' articles?

Sounds like a farewell.

Ravi Venkataraman

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 8:47 AM
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It is generally accepted practice that when making lists of the "Best 5 ...." types, one excludes oneself. In scientific, peer reviewed papers, even those written by single authors, the pronoun "I" is conspicuous by its absence; the phrase "the author(s)" or "we" is used instead.

I prefer a bit of humility. That is what distinguishes the truly great from the wannabees. The truly great can afford to be humble and modest because their greatness will shine through nevertheless.

I am not a C++ programmer. Its complexity turned me off long ago. Nevertheless, given Scott Meyers's self-adulatory posts, I'll make sure not to read any more articles by Scott Meyers in any field of software development.

By the way, I do not feel that writing books on C++, or being on the language specification committee, etc. qualifies one for greatness in said field.

Alex Stepanov's work on STL definitely should have been mentioned. Its absence shows that the author is not being objective.

Christopher Dearlove

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Registered: Aug, 2006

Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 10:09 AM
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I tried an experiment and fed Scott's list (both names needed) into http://labs.google.com/sets - here are the other names it came up with on its long list.

Nicolai M Josuttis
Stanley B Lippman
Martin Fowler
James O Coplien
Bruce Eckel
Douglas C Schmidt
PJ Plauger
Angelika Langer
Ira Pohl
Gurus Genitor
Cay Horstmann
Jim Coplien
W Richard Stevens
Erich Gamma
Krzysztof Czarnecki
Grady Booch
Brian W Kernighan
Kent Beck
Richard Monson Haefel
Nell B Dale

Make of that what you will. (I don't recognise all of them, and one I haven't heard of in a C++, or OO, context - but in another very much so, and maybe it's just me. That's not counting the OO, not necessarily C++, people. And there are clear omissions. But don't blame me for that.)

I'm with the people who think Stepanov should have been on the list (although if talking about publicity, Matt Austern is who popularised it to me). But there's also a second author of the STL isn't there, Meng Lee? Some credit there, even if not on this list?

nes

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Registered: Jul, 2004

Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 10:19 AM
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Guys, be easy on Scott. Whenever you include yourself in a list like that it will sound pretentious, that is why it is customary for the author to exclude himself. Scott broke the tradition and time will tell if that was a wise thing to do.

Because I am in the mood I will follow with some anecdotes to show how Bjarne and Andrew still impact the programming world today:

A friend of mine had to do a presentation during his time as a software engineering student a couple of years ago. He was doing a comparison of C++ and Eiffel. He sent out a mail to Bjarne asking about the rationale for the existence of some of the visibility qualifiers. He got an articulated answer back. My friend was able to present the topic with the backing of an authority in the field.

Although Andrew Koenig is better known for his C and C++ works, he is no stranger to the Python world and not shy to start a stir. Look at the summary of http://www.python.org/dev/summary/2002-08-16-2002-09-01/ under the type categories title. I met him at Pycon a couple of years ago and he was a very approachable guy, listening and giving his opinion on what people were doing.

Bill Venners

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Registered: Jan, 2002

Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 2:52 PM
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> What is the point of all these 'most important' articles?
>
They are light reading that I felt would be good conversation starters and community builders. I always ask in the forums what other X (books/pubs/software/people, etc.) do you think was significant in the history of C++. And each time people have chimed in with a few such suggestions.

Bjarne Stroustrup

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Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 3:06 PM
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Picking *the* top people is very difficult and very personal. Spefifying which criteria to use to select "top people"
is already hard. For example, contributions to:
the language definition
popularization
contribution of libraries
compiler writing
building significant applications
academic papers
development of new software develoment techniques
tool building
What else?

To show the difficulty, here is a list of people that at various times over the last 25 years have been indispensible
and/or left significant traces in C++ and/or simply been highly visible in the C++ community. The order is alphabetical:


Dave Abrahams - formulated the exception guarantees, library provider, Boost co-founder, template metaprogramming guru, author
Andrei Alexandrescu - author
Matt Austern - STL implementor, library WG chair, author
Tom Cargill - early C++ user, critic, and author (exception safety problems, language size problems)
John Carolan - first C++ business (not counting AT&T), porter and speaker
Marshall Cline - C++ FAQ
Jim Coplien - early adventurous user, popularized the notion of idiom (frm which "Pattern" borrowed a fair bit), author
Steve Clamage - early C++ compiler, C++ standards committee chairman, Sun representative
Hans-Jurgen Boehm - (C and) C++ garbage collectors - C++ concurrency and memory model work
Beman Dawes - Boost founder, rare user point-of-view in standards committee
Bruce Eckel - early C++ author, conference organizer
Eric Gamma (and the rest of the gang of 4) - design patterns, early GUI, C++ banking software
Francis Glassborow - ACCU founder, edition, and reviewer. UK committee member/delegate for a decade or so
Kevlin Henney - author, inventor and/or popularisor of many technniques
Michi Henning - CORBA book, ICE
Andrew Koenig - author, C++ project editor, contributor to many language features, manipulators
Doug Lea - CORBA binding
Stan Lippman - author, editor of "The C++ Report"
Dmitri Lenkov - founded the ANSI C++ committee
Doug McIlroy - Bell Labs' most influential "critic" of early C++, languages and systems guru
Nathaen Myer - traits
Scott Meyers - author
Kristen Nygaard - inventor of Simula and OOP/OOD, many discussions on aims and means of programming
PJ Plauger - defender of the C-view of C++, library vendor
Tom Plum - defender of the C-view of C++, conformance suite
Martin O'Riorden - early Cfront porter, first Microsoft C++ comiler, very Microsoft and Ireland representative
Dough Schmidt - ACE, TAU, CORBA book
Jerry Schwartz - iostreams (the original stream were mine), years on the standards committee
Jonathan Shopiro - first C++ standards project editor, writer of many early libraries, CORBA C++ binding
Alex Stepanov - the STL
Herb Sutter - author, columnist, designer of C++/CLI, ISO convener
Mike Tiemann - Cygnus founder, first author of GNU C++, wrote GPL-lite to allow use of C++ libraries
Todd Veldhuizen - template metaprogramming, expression templates, proved C++ template instantiation Turing complete, MTL

Obviously, the (sub)lists of contributions are absurdly short.

Many people in the standards committee contributed one or a few ideas, yet are not listed
Many people in Bell Labs who helped with suggestions or saved C++ from getting strangled in the crib, yet are not listed
Note that I know people who have spent 25 years doing little but C++ and still isn't on the list.
I know people who have spent months every year for the last 15 who is still not on the list.
It is really hard to come up with objective criteria.

There are huge tracts of the C++ community that I don't know well enough to pick names. Consider:

Apple
Borland
Banking
CGAL
EDG
IBM
QT
Rogue Wave
Microsoft
ROOT
...

Consider also national communities:

China
France
Germany
Japan
Scandinavia
UK
...


Suggestions welcome. I mean it:
which people did I miss?
which people shouldn't have been in this unordered top-30-or-so?
what less-than-one-line "rationales" are inaccurate/unfair?

See also, B. Stroustrup: A History of C++: 1979-1991. Proc ACM History of Programming Languages conference (HOPL-II).
ACM Sigplan Notices. Vol 28 No 3, pp 271-298. March 1993. Also, History of Programming languages (editors T.J.Begin
and R.G.Gibson) Addison-Wesley, ISBN 1-201-89502-1. 1996. (A heavily reviewed paper). Link on publications page:
http://www.research.att/~bs/papers.html .

More people to consider

John Barton
Dag Bruck
Walter Bright
Steve Dewhurst
Gabriel Dos Reis
Sean Corfield
Alexander Fraser
Doug Gregor
Tony Hansen
Howard Hinnant
Roland Hartinger
Jaakko Jarvi
Brian Kernighan
John Lakos
Barbara Moo
Dave Musser
Lee Nackmann
Sean Parent
Dennis Ritchie
Jerimy Siek
David Vandervoorde

Now, *many* could reasonably object to not being mentioned here or not to be on the other list.
If you feel overlooked or feel I overlooked someone else, please email me.

A "Who's Who in C++" would be useful.

-- Bjarne Stroustrup; http://www.research.att.com/~bs

Abe Taha

Posts: 1
Nickname: abetaha
Registered: Aug, 2006

Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 5:23 PM
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I have to agree a bit of humility is good. Even if Meyers thinks he's one of the most important C++ people ever, he could have shown some humility and picked another name from Stroustrup's list instead.

Todd Blanchard

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Registered: May, 2003

Re: The Most Important C++ People...Ever Posted: Aug 31, 2006 6:22 PM
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Scott absolutely belongs on that list. Probably at position 2.

For the longest time I began every phone screen for C++ talent with "Who is Scott Meyers?". Failure to correctly answer would get you 10 more minutes of pleasant talk and a "thank you for your time".

I learned the language from the ARM, Scott's first book, and the fish streams book. The STL, which came several years afterward, I learned online.

I still routinely see violations of Scott's 50 items in recently written production code and it gives me the willies everytime.

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