E S Atwell (
Wed, 5 Jul 1995 13:05:11 +0100


>I would be very happy to hear about people who have used/are using the ICON
>programming language for NLP purposes. Comments, reactions, suggestions ...

The definitive online source of information is at Arizona Univ where Icon
was developed, see

I *used* to teach a final-uear undergraduate course to Computer Studies
BSc students, on the Comparative Study of Programming Languages. Under
this aegis I used and taught Icon, but never any seriously large programs.
I got the impression it is quite different from language(s) studnets are likely
to have used before, so takes a lot of effort to get used to. It is
fairly easy to write equivalents of Pascal programs, but this does not use
the full expressivity, particularly string-handling functionality.
The downside of this expressivity is that it can be very hard to
understand someone else's programs, or to debug when your program runs
but doesnt produce the output you want.

Furthermore, I get the impression that Icon users are fairly thinly spread,
esp in UK/Europe (as Icon was developed in USA), and that Perl has taken over
as the most popular string/text-handling programming language,
mainly becuase Perl is standardly used for WorldWideWeb text-handling
routines. see for an online
tutorial in Perl, and then
for a tutorial on how to use Perl in WWW page creation, interfaces etc.

I can't claim to be an expert programmer in either Icon or Perl, but an
increasing number of 'with-it' researchers here at Leeds are jumping on
the Perl bandwaggon - I suggest you check it out before committing to Icon.

hope this helps,


PS I am trying to build up a list of WWW tutorials in subareas of NLP,
linguistics, and artificial intelligence - if you know of any, please
let me have the URLs! (and I will add them to my list in - thanks!)


Eric Steven Atwell
Centre for Computer Analysis of Language And Speech (CCALAS)
KBS+SALT Coordinator, HEFCs-JISC New Technologies Initiative
Artificial Intelligence Division, School of Computer Studies
The University of Leeds, LEEDS LS2 9JT, Yorkshire, England
TEL:0113-2335761 FAX:0113-2335468