Turing tarpit

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{theory, work, human}
{math, number, function}
{language, word, form}
{system, computer, user}

Turing tarpit is a general term for a programming language or computer interface which allows for a great deal of flexibility in function but is difficult to learn and use because it offers little or no support for common tasks. The phrase was coined by Alan Perlis in the epigram

In any Turing complete language, it is possible to write any computer program (save differences in input/output formatting), so in a very rigorous sense nearly all programming languages are equally capable. Turing tarpits prove that theoretical ability is not the same as usefulness in practice. A clear way of measuring this difference is by comparing the average lengths of common programs implemented in different systems. However, a very short version of a program may also be very hard to read.

Turing tarpits are characterized by having a simple abstract machine which requires the user to deal with many details in the solution of a problem. At the extreme opposite are interfaces which can perform very complex tasks with little human intervention but become obsolete if requirements change slightly.

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