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language (Or "M") Massachusetts General Hospital Utility
Multi-Programming System.
A programming language with extensive tools for the support of
database management systems. MUMPS was originally used for
medical records and is now widely used where multiple users
access the same databases simultaneously, e.g. banks, stock
exchanges, travel agencies, hospitals.
Early MUMPS implementations for PDP-11 and IBM PC were
complete operating systems, as well as programming
languages, but current-day implementations usually run under a
normal host operating system.
A MUMPS program hardly ever explicitly performs low-level
operations such as opening a file - there are programming
constructs in the language that will do so implicitly, and
most MUMPS programmers are not even aware of the operatingsystem activity that MUMPS performs.
Syntactically MUMPS has only one data-type: strings.
Semantically, the language has many data-types: text strings,
Boolean values. Interpretation of strings is done inside
functions, or implicitly while applying mathematical
operators. Since many operations involve only moving data
from one location to another, it is faster to just move
uninterpreted strings. Of course, when a value is used
multiple times in the context of arithmetical operations,
optimised implementations will typically save the numerical
value of the string.
MUMPS was designed for portability. Currently, it is possible
to share the same MUMPS database between radically different
architectures, because all values are stored as text strings.
The worst an implementation may have to do is swap pairs of
bytes. Such multi-CPU databases are actually in use, some
offices share databases between VAX, DEC Alpha, SUN,
Versions of MUMPS are available on practically all hardware,
from the smallest (IBM PC, Apple Macintosh, Acorn
Archimedes), to the largest mainframe. MSM (MicroneticsStandard MUMPS) runs on IBM PC RT and R6000; DSM (Digital
Standard Mumps) on the PDP-11, VAX, DEC Alpha, and
Multi-platform versions include M/SQL, available from