Foo, Bar, Baz…: The Metasyntactic Variable and the Programming Language Hierarchy

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Abstract

This article argues that the English-language nonsense words “foo,” “bar,” “baz,” and others in a more or less standardized sequence of so-called metasyntactic variables commonly used in computer programming ought to be understood as meta-abstractive, re-representing a linguistically derived code’s abstraction of language and the abstraction of the programming language hierarchy itself, making it legible in a manner that rewards culturally oriented study: for example, of programming as a culture and of cultures of software development or engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophy and Technology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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