The Mumps Programming Language (book)

Book: The Mumps Programming Language (2010) available from (ISBN: 1438243383, 120 pages). A revised, updated and comprehensive overview of Mumps with numerous programming examples.

Beginning in 1966, Mumps (also referred to as M), was developed by Neil Pappalardo and others in Dr. Octo Barnett’s lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital on a PDP-7. It was later ported to a number of machines including the PDP-11 and VAX.

Mumps is a general purpose programming language that supports a novel, native, hierarchical database facility. The acronym stands for the Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-programming System. It is widely used in financial and clinical applications and remains to this day the basis of the U.S. Veterans Administration’s computerized medical record system VistA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture), the largest of its kind in the world.

As originally conceived, Mumps differs from other mini-computer based languages by providing a:

1. Hierarchical database facility. Mumps data sets are not only organized along traditional sequential and direct access methods, but also as trees whose data nodes can addressed as path descriptions in a manner which is easy for a novice programmer to master in a relatively short time;

2. Flexible and powerful string manipulation facilities. Mumps built-in string manipulation operators and functions provide programmers with access to efficient means to accomplish complex string manipulation and pattern matching operations.

Syntactically, Mumps is based on an earlier language named JOSS and has an appearance similar to early versions of BASIC which was also based on JOSS. Another feature of Mumps which distinguished it from other language environments at the time was its ability to run multiple applications and serve multiple users concurrently on very primitive computers.

Over the years, a number of implementations were developed. Many of these are now extinct or have evolved considerably from their original base. As the early implementations began to differ linguistically from on another, an effort to standardize Mumps began. This culminated in the 1977 ANSI standard for Mumps (X11.1-1977).

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