Critiques

Haskell vs. Erlang, Reloaded

The goal of my project was to be able to thoroughly test a poker server using poker bots. Each poker bot was to to excercise different parts of the server by talking the poker protocol consisting of 150+ binary messages. The poker server itself is written in C++ and runs on Windows....

This app is all about binary IO, thousands of threads/processes and easy serialization. All I ever wanted to do was send packets back and forth, analyze them and have thousands of poker bots running on my machine doing same. Lofty but simple goal :-). Little did I know!

Erlang and Haskell compared... Want to know the conclusion?

I was able to finish the Erlang version 10 times faster and with 1/2 the code. Even if I cut the 10-11 weeks spent on the Haskell version in half to account for the learning curve, I would still come out way ahead with Erlang.

I am sure you'll find a lot to disagree with in this article...

Tim Bray on Ruby

How I got here was, two recent pieces of writing that made me think heavily were Ruby-centric: Mikael Brockman’s Continuations on the Web and Sam Ruby’s Rails Confidence Builder... So I went and bought Programming Ruby ('Pickaxe' in the same sense that Programming Perl is the 'Camel book')

The conclusion of this piece is that Ruby looks like more than a fad, so LtU readers who still haven't checked it out might want to do so...

Where are the other editors, I wonder?

Overloading - Syntactic Heroin?

Ehud, theoretically on vacation, emailed me a link to an article from the June ACM Queue, Syntactic Heroin:

User-defined overloading is a syntactic drug that has seduced all too many language designers, programmers, and project managers.

It's focused on overloading in C++, and in particular the problems that can arise with implicit conversions, both built-in and programmer-defined. The author concludes that this is all a very bad idea, although to my disappointment, he doesn't explore more disciplined approaches to "overloading" in languages that are less conversion-happy, such as parameterized higher-order modules in functional languages, or Haskell's typeclasses.

In Search of the Ideal Programming Language

The ever-enticing search for the ideal programming language produced this 1997 article from Sergey Polak. Although somewhat dated, I liked the article's comments about strings:

The discussion of arrays also brings to mind the subject of strings. No matter what anyone says, it is my firm belief that any language, regardless of its purpose, must have a powerful and flexible string-handling facility built-in. A program is very rare if it has no need for string handling, and I myself have had to write a great deal of programs, both at work and for my own uses, that depended heavily on strings. Some languages put strings in as an afterthought, and others put in some very basic features and leave the rest to library routines. That just can not be. The text string is a fundamentally important data type and can not be ignored, nor can it be relegated to blatant impersonation by some other type, such as array of characters. A string data type is required in a good language.

The very popular language C, and C++ as well, have horrendous string-handling facilities. Not only is the programmer required to declare his strings as character arrays, but there simply is no way to deal with strings as entities in the language.

Ouch. So true. That is not to endorse the specific string implementation recommendation from the article. (I have previously commented about implementation ideas, including communication buffers.)

Do the man a favor and save the article to disk for offline reading so as to minimize his bandwidth hits.

P.S. You're welcome, Ehud. I'll now be Internet-disabled for a week.

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