The Syntactic Century Blog
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Turing's Euclidean Stroke of Genius posted on 01 Mar 2009 16:50

Everybody knows Alan Turing was the father of the computer. What is less appreciated is that Turing stands right next to Euclid in the pantheon of creative geniuses. What is almost never mentioned is why Turing deserves so lofty a ranking. (read more…)

Comments: 24, Rating: 0

Performance Economics posted on 21 Feb 2009 12:00

Another cooked-up performance "controversy" is bubbling on the haskell-cafe mailng list: is gcc a "better" compiler than ghc? The question hinges on the performance (speed) characteristics of a relatively small, simple chunk of code when run through the respective compilers. It seems gcc makes faster code in this isolated case. I can't follow the technical details, but I do know that this kind of "performance" comparison is pointless and probably harmful. (read more…)

Comments: 2, Rating: 0

Intergalactic Telefunctors and Quantum Entanglement posted on 15 Feb 2009 16:06

In a previous article I argued against the pernicious Container Fiction. Some respondents have quite reasonably responded that this seems a bit pedantic; it may be true that e.g. a list is not really a container, but it's such a useful metaphor that only a pedant would insist on banning it. (read more…)

Comments: 13, Rating: 0

In Praise of Elitism posted on 15 Feb 2009 12:17

A respondent to one of my earlier posts complained that approaching Haskell by way of category theory is a "radical approach that would lead to elitism", since such an approach is likely to scare off all but the mathematical sophisticate. (read more…)

Comments: 16, Rating: 0

Pernicious Myth No. 1: The Container Fiction posted on 14 Feb 2009 15:35

Newcomers to Haskell quickly learn that lots of containers are involved. Lists and tuples are containers; a monad is like a container; constructed data contain the arguments used in construction, and so forth. (read more…)

Comments: 29, Rating: 2

Fixing Haskell IO posted on 13 Feb 2009 17:26

No, Haskell IO isn't broken; that's just a shameless bid for attention. But the metalanguage commonly used to describe Haskell IO is broken. (read more…)

Comments: 14, Rating: 0

"Computation" considered harmful. "Value" not so hot either. posted on 13 Feb 2009 15:50

The term "computation" has at least six different senses, all of which are commonly used in technical literature: (read more…)

Comments: 8, Rating: 0

Programming Language Semiotics posted on 10 Feb 2009 13:20

In a recent posting to the haskell-cafe mailing list, Richard O'Keefe put his finger on a major problem that afflicts most if not all expositions of Haskell's evaluation semantics with respect to IO operations: (read more…)

Comments: 6, Rating: 0

Formal semantics for side effects posted on 09 Feb 2009 15:56

Got an idea for formal semantics for operations with side-effects like IO operations, random, etc. It's inspired by Haskell's use of Category Theory as a semantic device and by the Z specification language (the ISO Standard is downloadable; see the small print below the price list. An outdated but still useful manual is here.) (read more…)

Comments: 4, Rating: 0

Moggi :: CT -> Hask posted on 07 Feb 2009 16:29

The monad found its way into Haskell from E. Moggi’s research in the late 1980s integrating Category Theory into the domain of programming language semantics. He began by observing that there are three common approaches to proving equivalence of programs: (read more…)

Comments: 15, Rating: 1

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