Fun

Keep Blogging Worker Bee!

Jacob Matthews, of PLT fame, is writing a blog currently covering PLDI. It's an interesting and amusing read; check it out!

Happy Birthday, PHP...

As Slashdot observes, PHP was born 10 years ago on June 8th 1995.

It's had its knockers, but it's running this site...

Python Challenge

A well done set of Python challenges.

Some solutions can be found here, if you need help getting started...

Chris Coyne's Context Free Design Grammar, and SCIgen - Randomly generated CS papers.

Chris Coyne's Context Free Design Grammar was just mentioned by Perry Wagle on the #haskell irc channel. It's a beautiful use of simple concepts in a surprising manner. If you haven't seen the examples, you're missing out.

Chris mentions on the download page that's he's gotten a lot of hits because he's linked from SCIgen, the recently slashdotted automatic CS paper generation project at MIT. Even more amazing, One of their randomly generated papers was accepted.

Pugs, Practicing the Theories.

A lot of language theory goes past here on Lambda the Ultimate, but we rarely see that theory directly impacting commercial programmers.

I'm a great fan of theoretical concepts like arrows, but at the same time I'm a self-employed programmer interested in solving my clients' problems.

Pugs is notable in that it profitably uses recent developments such as GADTs and Template Haskell for an implementation of Perl6.

I recently became a regular on the #perl6 irc channel and soon after joined the list of committers.

In just a few days I've seen a lot. I've seen enthusiastic members of the Perl community learning Haskell. I've seen myself learning Perl. I've also seen how daily Perl programmers work with abstractions like monad transformers. I've seen how some structures are easy to extend for programmers new to both the Pugs codebase and Haskell.

The Pugs project was started 64 days ago by Autrijus Tang, as an exercise while reading TaPL. Pugs already includes network and threading primitives. New tests and code are add at an amazing rate, as evidenced by the smoke tests.

I don't know if I'll end up using Perl after Pugs is written, but I am learning how to practice the theory of programming language design and implementation.

Fold Must Fold!

The Fate Of LAMBDA in PLT Scheme v300
or
Lambda the Ultimate Design Flaw

About 30 years ago, Scheme had FILTER and MAP courtesy of Lisp hackers who missed them from their past experience. To this collection, Scheme added a lexically-scoped, properly-functioning LAMBDA. But, despite of the PR value of anything with Guy Steele's name associated with it, we think these features should be cut from PLT Scheme v300.

We think dropping FILTER and MAP is pretty uncontroversial; (filter P S) is almost always written clearer as a DO loop (plus the LAMBDA is slower than the loop). Even more so for (map F S). In all cases, writing the equivalent imperative program is clearly beneficial.

Why drop LAMBDA? Most Scheme users are unfamiliar with Alonzo Church (indeed, they don't even know that he was related to Guy Steele), so the name is confusing; also, there is a widespread misunderstanding that LAMBDA can do things that a nested function can't -- we still recall Dan Friedman's Aha! after we showed him that there was no difference! (However, he appears to have since lapsed in his ways.) Even with a better name, we think having the two choices side-by-side just requires programmers to think about their program; not having the choice streamlines the thought process, and Scheme is designed from the ground up to, as much as possible, keep programmers from thinking at all.

So now FOLD. This is actually the one we've always hated most, because, apart from a few examples involving + or *, almost every time we see a FOLD call with a non-trivial function argument, we have to grab pen and paper and imagine the *result* of a function flowing back in as the *argument* to a function. Plus, there are *more* arguments coming in on the side! This is all absurdly complicated. Because almost all the examples of FOLD we found in practice could be written as a simple loop with an accumulator, this style should be preferred, perhaps with us providing a simple helper function to abstract away the boilerplate code. At any rate, FOLD must fold.

--The PLT Scheme Team

This from the PLT Scheme mailing list. Clearly Guido's visionary thinking is having repercussions outside the world of Python. I, for one, welcome this change that can only benefit the Scheme language.

Reproducing Programs implement Lazy Lists

Along the lines of the quine discussion happening in another thread, Manfred von Thun wrote a new page for the Joy site, Reproducing Programs implement Lazy Lists. This connects nicely with Jeremy Gibbons spigot algorithms paper, one example of which is his IOHCC 2004 submission PiSpigot.

Defining new infix operators in Python

This is an absolutely blinding hack. See if you can guess how it's done before looking at the recipe...

The Little JavaScripter

In 1974, Daniel P. Friedman published a little book called The Little LISPer. It was only 68 pages, but it did a remarkable thing...

JavaScript has much in common with Scheme. It is a dynamic language. It has a flexible datatype (arrays) that can easily simulate s-expressions. And most importantly, functions are lambdas.

Because of this deep similarity, all of the functions in The Little Schemer can be written in JavaScript.

Show your Javascripting friends the light...

Amazon Web Services in Scheme

Phil Windley is having fun with Scheme and XML (SSAX). His latest set of examples show how to use Amazon Web Services from DrScheme, and how to write DrScheme servlets.

Continuations must be next, right? :-)

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