What is APL?

APL (named after the book A Programming Language) is an advanced array programming language developed in the 1960s by Dr. Kenneth E. Iverson. Its most powerful attribute is the multidimensional array that can include any size or shape content including other arrays. APL leverages a distinct set of special graphic symbols representing core level math and data manipulation functions and operators. Because APL's core object is data arrays, it is very efficient with the use of parallel computing.

The history and future of APL

The mathematical notation for manipulating arrays known as the APL programming language was developed by Dr. Kenneth Iverson at Harvard University starting in 1957, and published in his A Programming Language in 1962. The preface states its premise: Applied mathematics is largely concerned with the design and analysis of explicit procedures for calculating the exact or approximate values of various functions. Such explicit procedures are called algorithms or programs. Because an effective notation for the description of programs exhibits considerable syntactic structure, it is called a programming language.

With its roots deep into advanced mathematics, encapsulation of functional algorithms, and extension of multi-dimensional data arrays, APL enjoys a permanent place in the world of information technology. Today, the APL language is available on virtually every hardware platform (Apple OS, IBM, Microsoft, Sun, Unix, Linux, Raspberry-PI).

This gives APL a distinct advantage over other "scalar / looping" languages in the development of complex applications such as robotic controls, artificial intelligence, inference engines, fuzzy logic, simulations, gaming, business systems, scientific systems, actuarial systems, and systems integration.

For a complete historical review of the APL programming language, visit the Wikipedia article, here.

back to top