The Siren Song of Declarative Programming

Let’s continue our journey of discovery through the wild jungle of programming paradigms by clearing away more obstructive vines. This post tackles the taxonomic distinction that many attempt to make between declarative and imperative programming. What becomes clear, after some study, is that “declarative” and “imperative” do not have singularly simple and clear meanings. Wikipedia offers three incompatible definitions! The many strands of these confusing concepts entangle themselves into a Gordian knot that resists all attempts to neatly untie it.

What is a Programming Paradigm?

Have our conversations about programming paradigms grown stale? It seems so. Paradigms like object-oriented programming and functional programming, the two most talked-about, are decades-old. Nearly always, conversations about them devolve into reciting the same desiccated stereotypes. Is this because the notion of a programming paradigm has outlived its usefulness? Dr. Harper appears to think so. Even among those who find some value in one paradigm or another, there is a notable wariness to engage in fruitful discussions across diverse communities.