quote: This question John Backus answered, saying: 'As to where the idea came from-it came from a class that I took from Martin Davis ... talking about the work of Emit Post and the idea of a production. It was only in trying to describe ALGOL 58 that I realized that there was trouble about syntax decription. It was obvious that Post's productions were just the thing, and I hastily adapted them to that use.'
But its just silly to try to distort my original propositions, which was exactly:
"The application of mathematical study to these objects is what results in advances in the state of the art. You can call it engineering or computer science, but it is still the mathematical way of thinking, ..."
Its irrelevant to this proposition whether one is influenced by a "formal theory", exposure to something less than formal, or whether the advance comes from their own application of mathematical thinking. I would think most often its mixtures of the above.
Even so, (1) I trust John Backus' account more than yours, and (2) he obviously applied mathematical thinking.