Someone entered “is perl still worth learning” into a search engine and found my blog.
The answer is Yes.
Python and Ruby are not inherently bad, but Perl is at least as useful and modern as them, it has – arguably – a wonderful community of programmers, it has an amazing library of reusable modules called CPAN.
My wife Hadar is starting serious work on her PhD in physics in the Technion. The guys in the lab in which she will be working wrote some calculations software in Fortran on Windows. The first thing that Hadar is doing is deciphering this Fortran code. She asked me for some help, and i couldn’t provide much, because i don’t really know Fortran. I suggested that she will advise those lab guys to consider porting their software, at least for the future, to Perl, because it is portable and because it is quite possible that it has the same capabilities for mathematical and scientific work as Fortran has. She told it to one of the researchers there and he replied that it should not be done, because “Perl is just a language for network servers.”
Saying that “Perl is just a language for network servers” is pretty much like saying that all Russian women are prostitutes. It’s a sad and silly prejudice. Here’s an article that dispels it: Ten Perl Myths.
So Hadar learned a little Perl and PDL – the Perl library for advanced mathematics. She picked up the basics very quickly. I was pleasantly surprised that she found that Perl’s main data types are scalars (
$drug = 'caffeine') and arrays (
@drugs = ('marijuana', 'quaalude', 'paracetamol')), because in math it works the same way (we didn’t discuss hashes yet). I was even more surprised to learn that it seemed perfectly fine to her that
@drugs is an array, but to access ‘quaalude’ you need to write
$drugs and not
@drugs. We tried searching CPAN for various mathematical functions, such as eigenvalue, matrix diagonal and linear algebra, and found everything.
So she’s gonna try that.
If she can’t convince them to migrate to Perl, i’ll have to learn Fortran and try to help them migrate from a Windows version of Fortran to GNU Fortran.