Ruby Creator visits Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Ruby Creator visits Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley

The creator of the Ruby programming language, Yukihiro Matsumoto (a.k.a. Matz), visiting from Japan, came to the Silicon Valley campus to participate as an honored guest at a Ruby meet-up in our building.

Our own Professor Todd Sedano was thrilled to sit down with Matz and discuss his pioneering efforts in Ruby as well as updates being developed in the field of programming languages. Sixteen years ago, Ruby began as a scripting language. Over the last decade it has been utilized more consistently in GUI and web programming. According to Matz, “Comparing to other languages, Ruby is slower for some types of applications. Version 1.9 of Ruby made significant improvements in speed. Our goal for future versions of Ruby is to enhance it by increasing its speed and providing more reliability for large scale software projects.” In order to do this successfully, Matz says, “Developers need to improve the range of the language in various aspects, including scalability and performance.”

When Sedano asked, “What can the Rails community do to assist Ruby developers improve the language?” Matz replied, “Rails has already provided a means to introduce people to the Ruby language. Ruby was not well known or marketed to the general programming community when it was first developed. Using Ruby on Rails proved that you could enhance productivity by using the proper tools.”

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Matz seemed genuinely pleased to learn that Ruby on Rails is an intricate part of the Foundations of Software Engineering course taken by all master’s students in the Software Engineering program. Matz commented, “as developers, we are pleased that programmers are focusing on productivity and ease of programming. Rails offered an example of productivity, therefore, Ruby on Rails has pushed other languages onto the path towards productivity.” Matz offered the following advice to students studying Software Engineering, “focus on something that makes you happy. Whether its web frameworks, web applications, or programming, follow your instinct. I have spent more than 20 years designing programming languages because it makes me happy.” Sedano agreed, “using Ruby re-ignited my joy of programming, likely because your joy in creating it made it enjoyable to use.”

Matz concluded, “As developers, one of the challenges we face is creating new versions of a language that will be easily incorporated with existing code. We love to make improvements and enhance our language, but need to be careful to provide a platform that will not fracture the old code. Communication between the developers and the managers is key to success.”

As of 2009, Matsumoto is the head of the research and development department at the Network Applied Communication Laboratory, an open source systems integrator company in Shimane Prefecture. He is the fellow of Rakuten Institute of Technology, an R&D organization in Rakuten Inc. According to Matz, he was a self-taught programmer until the end of high school. He graduated with an information science degree from Tsukuba University.