Yale Patt on Abstraction

Abstraction’s a good thing? Abstraction is a good thing if you don’t care about the performance of the underlying entities. You know, so many schools teach freshmen programming in Java. So what’s a data structure? Who cares? My hero is Donald Knuth, who teaches data structures showing how data is stored in memory. Knuth says that unless the programmer understands how the data structure is actually represented in memory, and how the algorithm actually processes that data structure, the programmer will write inefficient algorithms.

from IEEE Micro Nov/Dec 2007