The plots in http://blog.wolfram.com/2014/06/04/how-the-wolfram-language-measures-up/ seems to indicate that Pascal has a relatively high code density. What features of the language makes it so?

Follow-up question:

Does this explain why Pascal are often introduced in high schools as one of the first programming languages?

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    $\begingroup$ Although I provided an answer, it has occurred to me that I don't know what you mean by code density. What do you mean? $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2014 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ @DaveClarke Based on the blog post, the preferred measure of code density is the number of tokens required to implement specific functionality (though a previous study used character count). $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2014 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ Given that the Wolfram language "wins" by their measurement but is horrible to program in, that might not be the best quality metric around. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jun 4, 2014 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael What's a better metric given Rosetta Stone as input data sets? $\endgroup$
    – qazwsx
    Jun 5, 2014 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Problemania: I have no idea! Depends on what you want, I guess. In industry, I'd look at revenue per programmer hour. For academic investigations of elegance, code length may even be appropriate but it has to be done carefully (i.e. selecting fair examples and forbidding [non-standard] library functions). $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jun 5, 2014 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


What makes Pascal dense is not the features it has, but the features it doesn't. Here is a small list of features that make other languages less dense:

  • higher order functions
  • classes and inheritance
  • specialised syntax for sets, lists, hashes
  • built in regular expression syntax
  • good libraries
  • $\begingroup$ Boilerplate is also a source of code bloat. Having to specify types would also add length. $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2014 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ Procedures and function can be passed as parameters in Pascal, though they cannot be returned as results. Still, it should qualify to some extent as higher-order functions. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Jun 4, 2014 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ Does your argument explains that Pascal wins over FORTRAN? $\endgroup$
    – qazwsx
    Jun 5, 2014 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ seems good answer to me as it is indeed correct plus the structured form of programming, pascal is known to endorse (which adds boilerplate code), makes this even higher $\endgroup$
    – Nikos M.
    Jun 5, 2014 at 20:56

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