Panini vs John Backus

John Robert Gardner jrgardn at EMORY.EDU
Fri Oct 29 13:09:26 UTC 1999

I would be very interesting in seeing replies on this matter.  Currently
my studies, following from my dissertation on the terminology for the self
in early Vedic (cf. URI below), are being undertaken at Emory in a course
on Artificial Intelligence and Lisp programming (the immediate successor
to Fortran, initially built on top of it by John McCarty to accomodate
lists which FORTRAN did not).

It is a nice exception to the otherwise regrettable norm that Sanskrit is
frequently noted as a sourcepoint for many--if not most--of the
fundamental underpinnings of AI development.  In our text on AI, Sanskrit,
Panini, and early theoriests such as Bhartrhari surface-- the text is
_Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach_ and in that text it is
Backus-Naur Form. I'm not sure of the origins of Naur, but I find it hand
as it is a mnenonic to remember the order of priority for the first order
logic operators in heirarchy: not, and, or, inference!

I would be interested to explore this in detail on this list and resurrect
input from those scholars out there that I know have a base in Shatric
logic studies and early rhetorical discussions.


John Robert Gardner, Ph.D.
XML Engineer

On Fri, 29 Oct 1999, . . wrote:

> Backus joined IBM as a programmer in 1950. He is the inventor of FORTRAN,
> the first high level computer language to be developed. It became
> commercially available in 1957.
> In 1959 he invented the BNF, a standard notation to describe the syntax of
> a high level programming language.
> At one place, I found BNF to be described as "Backus Naur Form" and at
> other as "Backus Normal Form". Which one is correct?
> Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language
> theory used to specify computer languages. Why?
> The BNF was discovered independently by John Backus in 1959, but Panini's
> notation is equivalent in its power to that of Backus and has many similar
> properties. Could anyone provide me any example to substantiate this claim?
> Thanx/Kailash
> Kailash Srivastava

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list