OCaml Release 3.08.0

Objective Caml release 3.08.0 is official and incorporates many improvements. A big thank-you to the OCaml team for this stable release. Those on the bleeding edge of post-3.08 CVS work can follow Xavier's advice.

Functional programming with GNU make

One of the gems squirreled away on Oleg's site is "Makefile as a functional language program":

"The language of GNU make is indeed functional, complete with combinators (map and filter), applications and anonymous abstractions. That is correct, GNU make supports lambda-abstractions."

Although I've classified this under Fun, Oleg exploits
the functional nature of Make for a real, practical application:

"...avoiding the explosion of makefile rules in a project that executes many test cases on many platforms. [...] Because GNU make turns out to be a functional programming system, we can reduce the number of rules from <number-of-targets> * <number-of-platforms> to just <number-of-targets> + <number-of-platforms>."

See the article for a code comparison
between make and Scheme, and check out the Makefile in question.

Enumerating the Rationals

Jeremy Gibbons, David Lester and Richard Bird (2004). Enumerating the Rationals. May 2004.

In this paper,we explain an elegant technique for enumerating the positive rationals without duplicates. Moreover, we show how to do so as a simple iteration, generating each element of the enumeration from the previous one alone,with constant cost per element (assuming unit cost for simple operations on arbitrary-precision rationals). Best of all, the resulting program is extremely simple...

Cute. Nothing earth shattering, but fun none the less.

Debugging Functional Programs

An interesting thread on the Haskell mailing list.

I am not sure whether the most reasonable conclusion from this thread isn't to not choose lazy languages. I don't think it's simply a problem of lack of tools. Debugging lazy code is iherently problematic.

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