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Draw Towers
Volume Number:1
Issue Number:7
Column Tag:STRUCTURED PRogramming in Modula-2

Draw the Towers of Hanoi

By John Bogan

This month we will explore three items. First, we will continue to introduce the elements of Software Engineering in a historical perspective. Second, we will discuss why Modula-2 is not a hackers’ language and finally, we will look at a sample program that uses the Mac ROM to draw the starting position for the Towers of Hanoi.

A New Direction

Last month we saw that Software Engineering is capable of being abused as well as being able to provide important insights into the process of building good computer software. By the late 1960’s the Software Engineers had, in effect, dictated that COBOL would be the primary language of the FORTUNE 1000 probably until the end of the century. Most microcomputer programmers faced with the prospect of coding in COBOL would shudder in terror at the thought.

In 1968 Software Engineering took a turn for the better when a famous and well regarded European computer scientist lit a fire under the COBOL and FORTRAN programming community, a fire whose embers still smolder and flare up to this day. The scientist was E.W. Dijkstra and the arson was committed in the Communications of the ACM with a letter entitled “GOTO Statement Considered Harmful”. In this letter Dijkstra observed that after having read a multitude of programs in a variety of languages that the quality of a program was inversely proportional to the number of GOTO statements in that program. The graph below illustrates this discovery.

The idea is simple ... jumping around a program with branching statements leads to unreadable program texts (known in the trade as spaghetti code) which are next to impossible to debug or for a third party to pick up and read. Since ALGOL-60 (the European’s favorite language) has advanced control structures which permits GOTOless programming and FORTRAN doesn’t, the battle lines were drawn. Letter after letter poured into the journals feeding the flames.

Finally in 1972 in an effort to quell the controversy Dijkstra together with Dahl and Hoare published a book on just how to write high quality programs without using the dangerous GOTO statement. This book, Structured Programming, estab- lished once and for all that GOTOs are redundant. Every sequential program- ming task can be accomplished with a combination of three constructs.

• sequence:

BEGIN ... s1 ... s2 ... s3 ... END

• iteration:

WHILE c1 DO ... s1 ... ENDWHILE

• conditional:


If acceptance in the curriculum of the worlds’ Universities’ Computer Science Departments is a valid measure then Structured Programming is an overwhelming success. Only those programmers corrupted by traditional BASIC or Assembler still grasp at the past and argue the merits of the GOTO. Meanwhile the course of Software Engineering was changed forever. An example of this change is Modula-2. This language is rich in structured control statements and does not support the GOTO at all. There are no statement labels in Modula-2 and while it is possible to write poor code in Modula it is impossible to write spaghetti code.

The structured control statements supported by Modula are the statement sequence, the WHILE ... DO, the REPEAT ... UNTIL, the FOR ... TO ... BY ... DO, the LOOP ... EXIT, the IF ... THEN ... ELSIF, the CASE ... OF and the WITH ... DO statements.

What is Structured?

In some ways this is a very difficult question to answer. For adherents of the Structured Techniques the concept of “Structured” is very much like the Bible is to Jerry Falwell. It is the guiding light, the one true path to paradise, the blessed and final word on how to think about solving complex logical problems.

A slightly more dispassionate view might produce the following definition of structured - a philosophy for solving problems which attempts to conserve scarce resources by arriving at the perfect solution in the fewest attempts by following a plan.

Why Plan When You Can Hack?

The idea of a plan is very important in understanding the Structured Techniques, Software Engineering and Modula-2. It also illustrates why Modula-2 is not particularly well suited for hacking. Most hackers I have known use the technique of incremental discovery or trial by error. In other words programs just grow from line 1 until the last bell and whistle is debugged. Assembly language and to a lesser extent C are well suited for this type of programming. Modula-2 most definitely is not. As we will see in future columns the quaility of a Modula-2 program is dependent on the quality of the detailed planning that occurs before the first line of code is written. In many ways this dependence on upfront planning is a distinct disadvantage for learning a new and unique system like the Mac. So many of the techniques peculiar to the Mac (such as the entire user interface or resources or Quickdraw) are best approached and mastered by trial and error hacks. When you combine this reality with the compile-link-execute overhead of Modula-2 it should be obvious why Modula-2 is not particularly suited to casual hacking. A good strategy for making the best use of Modula-2 would be to learn the Mac with Apple’s interpreted Pascal and then to translate these programs into the much faster Modula-2. As we progress in these columns we will see just how close Modula and Pascal are to each other so this suggestion won’t seem so painful. The bottom line is that Modula-2 is not a language for the seat-of-the-pants hacker.

This Month’s Code

The piece of Modula-2 code that follows is primarily useful because it shows how to access the Mac ROM on a 128K machine. The Quickdraw calls used are SetRect, PaintRect and PaintRoundRect. You should be aware that the method of specifying ROM calls is different for a 512K box. Also it should be noted that the data types VHSelect, Point and Rect could have been imported blindly instead of spelled out but then their internal structures would have been hidden and the topic of information hiding in Modula-2 is an advanced and complex issue.

   (* build starting position for Hanoi Towers *)

   FROM Terminal IMPORT ClearScreen;
   FROM InOut IMPORT WriteString, ReadCard, WriteLn;
   (* data structures for Quickdraw calls *)
      VHSelect = (v,h);
      Point = RECORD
                 CASE INTEGER OF
     0: v: INTEGER;
        h: INTEGER;
    |1: vh: ARRAY VHSelect OF INTEGER;
  END; (* CASE *)
       END; (* RECORD *)
      Rect = RECORD
                CASE INTEGER OF
    0: top: INTEGER;
       left: INTEGER;
       bottom: INTEGER;
       right: INTEGER;
   |1: topLeft: Point;
       botRight: Point;
  END; (* CASE *)
              END; (* RECORD *)
     CX = 355B;
     QuickDraw1ModNum = 2; (* absolute module number 
        of QuickDraw1 *)
      r: Rect; NumDisks: CARDINAL;
   PROCEDURE SetRect (VAR r: Rect; left,top,right,bottom: INTEGER);
      CODE CX; QuickDraw1ModNum; 51 END SetRect;
   PROCEDURE PaintRect  (r: Rect);
      CODE CX; QuickDraw1ModNum; 62 END PaintRect;
   PROCEDURE PaintRoundRect(r: Rect; ovWd, ovHt: INTEGER);
      CODE CX; QuickDraw1ModNum; 67 END PaintRoundRect;
   PROCEDURE DrawBase;
  BaseLeft = 36;
  BaseTop = 261;
  BaseRight = 476;
  BaseBottom = 270;
   END DrawBase;
   PROCEDURE DrawPosts;
         PostTop = 144;
  PostBottom = 261;
  PostWidth = 6;
  HalfPostWidth = PostWidth DIV 2;
  PostPosition = 128;
         n, PostLeft, PostRight: INTEGER;
      WHILE n <= 3 DO
  PostLeft := (PostPosition * n) - HalfPostWidth;
  PostRight := PostLeft + PostWidth;
  n:= n + 1;
      END; (* WHILE *)
   END DrawPosts;
   PROCEDURE DrawVarDisks(numberofdisks: CARDINAL);
         bigdiskleft = 128 - 60;
  bigdisktop = 261 - 12;
  bigdiskright = 128 + 60;
  bigdiskbottom = 261;
  deltalength = 5;
  deltadepth = 12;
      VAR leftedge, topedge, rightedge, bottomedge: INTEGER;
          i: CARDINAL;
      IF (numberofdisks > 2) AND (numberofdisks < 10)
     leftedge := bigdiskleft; topedge := bigdisktop;
     rightedge := bigdiskright; bottomedge := bigdiskbottom;
     FOR i := 1 TO numberofdisks - 1 DO
        leftedge := leftedge + deltalength;
        topedge := topedge - deltadepth;
        rightedge := rightedge - deltalength;
        bottomedge := bottomedge - deltadepth;
     END; (* FOR *)
  END; (* IF *)
   END DrawVarDisks;
      WriteString(“Enter number of disks (between 3 to 9)”);
      WriteString(“To quit - enter number out of range”);
   END GetInput;
   PROCEDURE InitGraphics(NumberofDisks: CARDINAL);
   END InitGraphics;
   PROCEDURE ExecuteTowers;
      FOR Delay := 1 TO 30000 DO  END; (* FOR *)
   END ExecuteTowers;
   WHILE (NumDisks >= 3) AND (NumDisks <= 9) DO
   END; (* WHILE *)
END Hanoi.


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