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Why "Names Don't Matter" Matters

YOW! Lambda Jam 2018

Increasingly, people are popping up stating the controversial opinion that names don't matter. To most programmers this statement is obviously untrue, as naming is seen as difficult, and critical to semantic expression and communication in their code. To make matters worse, these same people demand fidelity to obscure and difficult names from mathematics, leading to charges of hypocrisy – if names don't matter, why do they care we all use any particular ones?

We'll try and tease out these seeming contradictions. We'll look at why "names don't matter" is an important idea, and why its more obvious superficial interpretation is specious.