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Interview with Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of C++ programming language 中文(简体)

August 2008

Today we are interviewing Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of C++ programming language. Dr. Stroustrup is a Professor and College of Engineering Chair in Computer Science, at the Dept. of Computer Science, Texas A&M University,College Station. He has written several books including The C++ Programming Languageand The Design and Evolution of C++. This is how his name is pronounced. Professor Stroustrup, our site takes pride in helping aspiring applicants to U.S. universities, and we at are encouraged by your gesture to talk to us. It is a great honor for our website, thank you for your kind consideration. What was the idea that led to C++?
Dr. Stroustrup: The basic idea was very simple: Combine Simula's facilities for organizing code with C's ability to write efficient (close to the hardware) code for systems programming. Simula contributed the essentials of object-oriented programming and C provided a machine model suitable for even the most demanding systems programming tasks. Combining those two is a way that did not force me to choose between elegance and efficiency was the key. Much has been learned and added since, so today's C++ is a far better tool for developing software than early C++ was, and the next ISO standard C++, C++0x, will be better still. If you want to read about the aims and means of C++ and about its development, have a look at my HOPL (ACM History of Programming) papers (available from my publications page):

app2us: What prompted you to take up teaching after spending many years at AT&T labs?
Dr. Stroustrup: I guess it was simply time for a change. 24 years is a long time in a job, even one as varied and stimulating as mine in Bell Labs and AT&T Labs had been. My children had left for university and thrived there, so I thought it was my turn. Also, I finally thought that I had something worth teaching, which wasn't widely taught. As is turned out I still retain a link to AT&T Labs as an AT&T Fellow. It is important for an academic not to loose touch with the needs and practices of industry.

app2us: What are your favorite courses to teach?
Dr. Stroustrup: Programming techniques and design techniques. Either for graduate students or for undergraduates. My work with freshmen (first year students) have led to a new book, "Programming: Principles and Practice using C++" which will be available in October 2008:

app2us: We understand that C++ is used in a wide variety of devices like cell phones, cameras and elevators. What is the most interesting device or application that uses C++?
Dr. Stroustrup: I'd say the Mars Rovers. Those are most interesting "gadgets". The Mars Rover project is one of the most impressive engineering feats to date and I'm proud that C++ is a prominent part of the systems involved; not just on the Rovers themselves, but also in the communications systems, testing, and image processing, and more. Obviously, more mundane applications, such as photoshop, the iPod GUI, and google's search engine, are more important in everyday life, but I find something like the Mars Rovers most inspiring. For a short list of applications, see

app2us: Do you think students from other fields should study Computer Science, for example studying for MS in Computer Science after BS in Mechanical Engineering?
Dr. Stroustrup: I think that the ideal is for everyone who develop software to understand both a bit of computer science and a bit of the application area. Ideally, that person is an expert in either or both, but definitely some knowledge of both is needed. Whether you take mechanical engineers and teach them some computer science or you take computer scientists and teach them some mechanical engineering doesn't matter all that much.

app2us: What is the one thing you like most about Texas A&M University?
Dr. Stroustrup: The winters! That's part of it of course, but if I didn't have a nice department and great colleagues even the best weather wouldn't make a difference. The TAMU CS department is ambitious and now have a lot of active young faculty. It is great to be part of an ambitious, expanding and improving organization.

app2us: What is your impression of
Dr. Stroustrup: It sounds as if you are providing a very useful service to students. Best of luck!

app2us: What is your advice to graduate students aspiring to pursue a career in research?
Dr. Stroustrup: Focus on problems. Don't get obsessed with tools and convention; instead learn about some yet unsolved real-world problems and build a reasearch program around principled approaches to solving such problems. Don't get obsessed with having a solution tomorrow. Learn to communicate well. It does not matter how good your ideas are if you cannot explain them to others. You need to communicate well (both giving information and taking it) both verbally and in writing. For those of us who do not have English as our native language, it is essential to get a good grasp of both professional and colloquial English. One nice thing about that is that there is so much good literature that can be of help:
I find that CS grad students *always* underestimate the importance of colloquiale English and writing. They consequently loose out on much that could have been a pleasure as well as of great utility.

app2us: Once again, on behalf of our team and our users, we like to thank you for taking out time from your very busy schedule. Thank you very much.

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