During our life time, computers have been responsible for ushering in an unprecedented age of swift technological changes that have permeated every sphere of life. For more than three decades, the speed at which computers perform computations has been doubling every eighteen months following an informal “law” formulated in 1965 by Gordon Moore, a co-founder of the chip-making powerhouse, the Intel Corporation. Along with the phenomenal increase in power, speed and storage capacity of computers, the cost of CPU, memory chips, and peripherals such as printers, monitors and scanners have also been falling rapidly. These trends will continue if not accelerate in the years to come.
Experts agree that for a long time, progress in computer software had lagged behind the enormous strides made in hardware. However, during the past decade, the revolutionary software product called the World Wide Web (WWW) came into our lives and quickly changed the world. The WWW, conceived by the European physicist Tim Berners-Lee in Switzerland in 1989, caught the world by storm. It has accelerated the rate at which the world is becoming a global village. Although many historians and economists believe that the current pace of technological change pales in comparison with the developments that took place in the last five decades of the nineteenth century, it is true that in a few years, the WWW has been able to penetrate into millions of homes and corporations around the world. Information on any conceivable topic is at our finger tips with a few key strokes and mouse clicks. People of all ages are spending countless hours chatting on the WWW, making friends and developing relationships. WWW-based commerce is already worth tens of billions of dollars and is growing by leaps and bounds every day. In a few years, the Web is probably destined to become the dominant medium for conducting business and personal communications.
From its early days, Perl has been one of the dominant programming languages of choice in the context of the World Wide Web. Perl has been used extensively for CGI programming for providing dynamic Web pages. The extensive use of CGI programming encourages a lot of programmers to learn Perl. Perl also provides powerful tools for writing programs that communicate across the World Wide Web and that access network databases. One of Perl’s strengths is its extra-ordinarily powerful pattern matching ability that can be used in looking for patterns in text including Web pages, thus making it suitable for data mining in many different areas such as business intelligence gathering and genomic studies.