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Bjarne Stroustrup Releases Paper on How C++ Thrived

By CACM Staff

June 15, 2020

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Bjarne Stroustrup, the 69-year-old creator of C++, describes the history and growth of the programming language in a new 168-page paper.

"How did C++ — an older language without serious commercial backing — manage to thrive" in the face of evolving hardware architectures, new application domains, and "quite a few well-financed and professionally marketed" competitors, Stroustrup asks in "Thriving in a Crowded and Changing World: C++ 2006–2020," published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages.

"C++ is a living language, so it changes to meet new challenges and the styles of use evolve," Stroustrup writes. "These challenges and changes in the 2006-to-2020 time-frame are the focus of this paper."

The community of C ++ developers increased about 50% from approximately 3 million in 2006 to around 4.5 million in 2018, according to "my best estimates," Stroustrup writes.

"A language doesn't change by itself; it is changed by people," he says. "So this is also the story of the people involved in the evolution of C++, the way they perceived the challenges, interpreted the constraints on solutions, organized their work, and resolved their inevitable differences."

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