When comparing Assembly vs Clojure, the Slant community recommends Clojure for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Clojure is ranked 17th while Assembly is ranked 39th. The most important reason people chose Clojure is:
Clojure programmers are highly encouraged to use immutable data in their code. Therefore, most data will be immutable by default. State change is handled by functions (for transformations) and atoms (an abstraction that encapsulates the idea of some entity having an identity).
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Pro Low Level - it's how the computer works
One of the best ways to learn how a computer actually works is to work your way up from lower level abstractions. Assembly, being only a level above machine code, is low enough level to make it clear how the computer is actually performing a computation, including code flow and loops, but high enough level to not be excessively tedious for the type of small projects that a student would do at the beginning of their first programming class. Use of an assembler with macros can stretch this even a bit further.
Pro Useful for embedded systems
A curriculum that involves an embedded component, such as an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi, can encourage students by allowing them to immediately connect their work with 'real systems'. Assembly is the ideal language for getting started with and understanding these devices, and since Assembly can be called from C, the code will still be useful if students move on to C later in the program.
Pro Naturally creates fast and small programs
Because of its natural syntax and low-level nature, assembly language programs are typically really small and fast.
Unlike other programming languages, in assembly language it is really hard to create a slow and over-bloated program.
Pro Uniform syntax
Assembly language syntax is relatively uniform, and so there's less room for a student to get confused by obscure characters, or miss some meaning implied by structure, such as with scoping rules, or call-by-name/value/reference semantics. While there may be a lot of mnemonics to look up, most work involves only a very small subset of them.
Pro Immutability is the default
Clojure programmers are highly encouraged to use immutable data in their code. Therefore, most data will be immutable by default.
State change is handled by functions (for transformations) and atoms (an abstraction that encapsulates the idea of some entity having an identity).
Pro Minimal syntax
Being a LISP, programs are simple: they're just functions and data. That it doesn't get bogged down with syntax or the loftier FP concepts like monads makes it one of most approachable functional languages for beginners.
Pro Good for writing concurrent programs
Since Clojure is designed for concurrency, it offers things like Software Transaction Memory, functional programming without side-effects and immutable data structures right out of the box. This means that the development team can focus their energies on developing features instead of concurrency details.
Pro Huge ecosystem of libraries to work with
There's a very large ecosystem of high-quality Clojure libraries which developers can use. One example is Incanter. It's a great data analytics library and a very powerful tool for dealing with matrices, datasets and csv files.
Pro Tries to solve problems as simply as possible
Simplicity is one of the pillars on which Clojure is built. Clojure tries to solve many problems in software development as simply as possible. Instead of building complex interfaces, objects or factories, it uses immutability and simple data structures.
Pro Dynamic language
A superb data processing language. While rich type and specification systems are available they are optional.
Pro Cross platform
Clojure compiles to JVM bytecode and runs inside the JVM. This means that applications written in Clojure are cross-platform out of the box.
Pro Rich Hickey
The creator is so awesome, he's a feature. Just look up his talks and see why.
Clojure has an elegant macro system which enables language additions, Domain-specific languages (DSLs), to be created much easier than most other languages (with the exception of Racket, perhaps).
Pro Great tool used in automating, configuring and managing dependencies available
Leiningen is a very useful tool for Clojure developers. It helps wiht automation, configuration and dependency management. It's basically a must for every Clojure project.
Pro Game is available with which you can learn Clojure
Nightmod is a tool used to make "live-moddable" games. It displays the game's code while you are playing and allows you to inject new code using Clojure. This can be a fun and useful experience for people trying to learn Clojure.
Pro No C/Java syntax
Con Difficult learning curve
Starting off as a beginner with assembly language could prove very daunting. I suggest learning a high level language first (e.g. C) to get a good grasp of programming - especially dealing with bits, bytes, numbers, accessing memory with pointers (which is why I suggest C).
Then once that person is comfortable writing C (or whatever high level language) programs, they would find moving to assembler a little less of a "What the hell?!!!" experience.
Con Rarely a requirement or used in professional employment
Con Not very portable
The instruction set may change depending on what CPU architecture is being used. Also, there will be some differences in implementations due to different assemblers being used, such as with changes in OS.
Con Hyperspecific syntax isn't a good first step to learning other modern languages
Con Confusing error messages
Clojure's error messages more often than not are very confusing. They usually involve stack traces that do not thoroughly explain where the error was caused or what caused it.
Con Tied to the JVM and it's limitations.
Some language constructs were obviously created as workarounds for JVM limitations. This makes the language much less elegant than it could have been.
Also, the JVM has a very cumbersome FFI.
Con Syntax can be alien / jarring for those used to other Lisps
Perhaps some may consider this attribute an advantage, but I do not. Clojure does not attempt to maintain significant compatibility with other Lisps. So, if you already know a Lisp or are used to the way Lisp works in general, you'll probably be confused if you take a look at Clojure. See these resources for more details on this subject: