On the Syntax and Semantics of Symbols

Scala version 3, affectively called Dotty, will drop the literal syntax of the symbol type. Currently, in Scala version two, we can create new symbols by prefixing a string of alpha numeric characters with an apostrophe, which, itself and at a syntactic level, is just another symbol. So what are symbols? What is their heritage in the sciences, and what does it mean for a language to contain symbols? Are symbols just axiomatic atoms in a language, to be freely defined by a client programmer when found applicable, or are they fundamental to the science of computing at a much deeper level? This talk will explore these questions, in natural language, and in an effort to compare the syntax and semantics of symbols in the programming languages Scala, Dotty and Lisp.

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