Jeff Atwood was kind enough to once more give me the shout-out in his blog the other day. Thanks Jeff!
This inspires me to continue my series on five-dollar words for programmers. Here’s one that I only learned relatively recently, when I helped write the code that translates a lambda expression into an expression tree which represents the content of the lambda: homoiconic.
A language is said to be homoiconic if the representation of the program can be seen as a data structure expressible in that language. With expression lambdas being convertible to expression trees (which can then be compiled into code at runtime), C# 3.0 is somewhat homoiconic. But it pales in comparison to, say, LISP, where pretty much everything you can do in the language you can also represent as structurally isomophic data.
Something I personally would like to see more of in C# in the future is greater homoiconicity. We could extend expression trees to statement trees, declaration trees, program trees, and so on. This series of steps would enable increasingly powerful and interesting metaprogramming scenarios.
C# suffers from the lack of a metalanguage. We absolutely do not want to go towards the horrible and primitive metaprogramming language exemplified by the C preprocessor language. We already have a great language, C#, so why not use C# as a metalanguage? Wouldn’t it be nice to make C# its own metalanguage? And once we do that, then we get into some truly strange loops, where we could use those data structures in the compiler implementation itself!
This is a long way off and might never happen, but a guy can dream.