UPDATE: I’ve uploaded a preliminary proof-of-concept Rebmu implementation to GitHub. See http://hostilefork.com/rebmu/ for details.
StackOverflow has a tag for so-called “Code Golf”, which has the goal of attempting to perform a programming task with a program that has a minimum number of ASCII characters.
There are several loopholes:
- You can obviously define a language which specifically performs only the one task, and uses a single-character program to do it (e.g. if the task is to print “Hello World”, you can make a fictitious language in which the single character program h will do it)
- You can compress your program into a form where it is no longer the sort of thing a human can reasonably read or write (e.g. the hexadecimal representation of assembled machine code)
But a real Code Golf language needs to be Turing complete. Furthermore, I feel that you should be able to give an arbitrary challenge to a programmer they could write a working program without machine assistance. It should also be feasible to make minor adjustments to the program’s behavior without using some kind of tool. My opinion is that in this respect, Rebol has potential to be the most impressive language for Code Golf ever created.
However, Rebol has striven for a verbose English-like wording scheme. So out of the box, its ability to compete is hampered against less ideal languages that have been purposefully shortened for this purpose (like GolfScript) Yet I began to wonder if the language could be configured in a trivial way that preserved its basic character (so it still passed the language parser) but that made it more terse.
I’ve decided to call my idea “Rebmu” (REBμ) the Microsocopic Rebol Dialect for solving code golf challenges! You can find a proof-of-concept source file on GitHub which has some documentation, but this post goes into some detail as well…