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Lecture by Bjarne Stroustrup: Continuous Evolution of the C++ Programming Language

By Yu Liu

On November 12th, 2019, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of the C++ programming language, visited Zhejiang University and gave a lecture on the topic of Continuous Evolution of C++ Programming Language at the Linshui Lecture Hall. Using vivid examples, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup introduced the original purpose, transformation (from C++98 to C++20), vision and future challenges of the C++ programming language. The lecture was hosted by Professor Wang Can of the School of Computer Science. Zhejiang University alumni at Morgan Stanley also attended the lecture.


At the beginning of the conference, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup talked about the design origin and development of the C++ programming language. At the level of language design theory, he introduced how C++ achieves optimal performance under resource constraints through its logic system and machine model.

Then, through some programming examples, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup presented tips on efficient resource management in program design and analyzed the onion architecture in programming, that is, how to pursue the balance between the autonomy and stability of programs. He also demonstrated to students how to use generic programming to achieve compatibility and simplicity.

Finally, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup proposed a very interesting open-ended question to the students: “how do you want your program to look in 5 years?” Through this question, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup got everyone thinking about the future development of programming languages and also introduced them to C++ Core Guidelines, a project his team is currently working on to provide core programming guidelines for C++ users.


At the Q&A session after the lecture, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup had a wonderful interaction with the students. In response to an undergraduate student’s question about the lack of simplicity in the C++ language compared to Rust and other languages, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup pointed out that when a programming language develops to a certain stage, with the increase in the magnitude of the problems that needs to be solved, the language is bound to become more complex in order to achieve compatibility and stability. Therefore, he encourages students not to be obsessed with using a programming language, but to select the most appropriate language according to the demands of the development task.

At the same time, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup said that he hopes that educators could provide students with a systematic C++ language education. “When I was teaching at Columbia University, I found that the C++ taught by other teachers was difficult even for me, because they lacked focus and did not systematically teach students the C++ language design principles. Therefore, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup launched a project demonstrating the core principles of C++ to provide a complete guide for programmers, which is available to all programmers online for free.


In the 90-minute lecture and interactive session, Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup shared the historical changes and programming skills of C++ and encouraged the Zhejiang University students to “dream no little dream and take concrete steps. After the meeting, many students took the initiative to ask questions and speak with Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup. This lively conversation greatly opened up the horizons of the students and inspired the them to learn from the inventive spirit of Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup to proceed to their study life with enthusiasm.


About this Speaker

Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup is the original design and creator of the C++ programming language and author of many technical bestsellers and academic works, including The C++ Programming Language (4th Edition), A Tour of C++ (2nd Edition), Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ (2nd Edition), etc. Dr. Stroustrup is a Managing Director of Technology at Morgan Stanley in New and was awarded Technical Fellow of Morgan Stanley. Dr. Stroustrup is also a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York, a Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a distinguished contributor to the Computer History Museum (CHM). He won the IET Faraday Medal in 2017 and was awarded the Draper Prize (the highest honor in the US engineering field) by the National Academy of Engineering in 2018. His research interests include distributed systems, design, programming, software development tools, and programming languages.

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