Become a better programmer by bridging Ousterhout's Dichotomy

Accepted Session
Short form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 from 5:00 – 5:45pm in Marquam


Do you know a dynamic/scripting language like Ruby or Python, but you don't know C? Diving down just a little can make you a better programmer in your preferred language! Scripting languages can teach old C hands a thing or two, too. Delve into the benefits of being a multilingual programmer.


John Ousterhout, the inventor of TCL, observed that languages could be grouped into “scripting” and “system” categories, with very few falling in-between.

I believe not only that all working programmers should be familiar with at least one of each, but that familiarity with scripting language X will make one a better programmer in system language Y, and vice versa. This talk will discuss the lessons each has for the other, using C and Python as primary exemplars, but also touching on other popular languages from both camps, and those that have attempted to bridge the gap.

Speaking experience


  • Andy Grover



    Andy Grover is a long-time Linux kernel hacker, working on power management, networking and Infiniband. He currently works for Oracle. He also has a fascination with higher-level languages such as Python, which he uses day-to-day as a scripting language, as well as wielding it in his spare time to develop BandRadar, a Python/Turbogears-based local music site for Portland. He has spoken at the Linux Kernel Summit as well as on Python at LinuxfestNW, and helped to organize last year’s successful Linux Plumbers Conf.