How did you stumble on Haskell?

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How did you stumble on Haskell?

braver
How do people stumble on Haskell?  I've taught ML at UPenn, and many
of my colleagues in Amazon are in SeaFunc -- switching from C funk to
func funk.  I've got Hudak's book a while ago, but didn't have
time/excuse to delve into it until recently.  Then the most fantastic
chain if events triggered it:

-- finally switched to Intel Mac
-- got Parallels
-- got a recent Linux, openSUSE 10.2, to stick into Parallels
-- decided finally to try Gentoo
-- found equery slow, came across Adelie/FQuery as "fast equery"
-- emerge adelie

To my surprise, saw it emerge GHC!  Realized Adelie is a Haskell way
to hack Portage.  Dug all things Haskell!

I also used Darcs for a long time.  It probably takes several pro et
contra factors to push away from boring things and to be inducted into
interesting FP things.  Again, UPenn focus on ML was invaluable, and
Ullman's book on ML superb -- and thin!

What's folks most interesting ways to arrive at FP?

Cheers,
Alexy
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Stefan O'Rear
On Sun, Jan 28, 2007 at 07:01:57PM -0800, Alexy Khrabrov wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?  I've taught ML at UPenn, and many
specific story elided
> What's folks most interesting ways to arrive at FP?

You want weird?  I was referred here by the Unlambda Manual.  Oh if I
ignore the syntax and squint right unlambda is Really Really Good.  Oh
wait, this language Madore mentions in passing eliminates the need for
squinting.
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Frederick Ross
In reply to this post by braver
On 1/28/07, Alexy Khrabrov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?

Read Ullman's book on ML.  Look at Haskell at that point, but was
insufficiently mathematically sophisticated to "get it" (hey, I was
sixteen).  Wrote numerical analysis code in Forth for a year or so.
Hacked on a several hundred thousand line FORTRAN 77 codebase.  Wrote
the simulation code for my physics thesis in C.  Decided I never
wanted to instantiate, destroy, or otherwise manage memory ever again.
 Had a hate-hate relationship with MATLAB, decided Mathematica was
rubbish.  Remembered Haskell.  Now creating the programmatic
equivalent of a cyborg, hunchback puppeteer to control a Java image
analysis program in Scheme.

So of course the best work I've done has been completely analytic
mathematical physics without reference to computing of any kind.  And
I'm a biologist.

This is known as being born in the Random monad.

--
Frederick Ross
Graduate Fellow, (|Siggia> + |McKinney>)/sqrt(2) Lab
The Rockefeller University
Je ne suis pas Fred Cross!
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Michael Richter-5
In reply to this post by braver
On Sun, 2007-28-01 at 19:01 -0800, Alexy Khrabrov wrote:
How do people stumble on Haskell?

I was working at a company I won't name on a product line that was collapsing under the weight of C++, mismanagement and the typical arch-conservatism of practicing programmers (for whom UNIX is still fresh and new).  I was burning out rapidly as I foresaw the impending collapse of the company and was trying to figure out how to regain the love I used to have for my job.

I decided that the technology we were using was part of the problem (and likely the indirect source of all the other problems like the management ones) and started looking at alternatives including Modula-3, Dylan, ML dialects, Erlang, etc.  While investigating the MLs I stumbled across a reference (somewhat disparaging) to Haskell and lazy evaluation.  I followed up on it (because the disparaging comment looked clannish to me) and looked at Haskell more closely.

At the time I rejected Haskell as being too "academic-oriented" in favour of Dylan.  Not long after that I gave up on software in general and took a nearly six-year break.  During that time, as I relocated my initial love for programming, I looked at Haskell again and it took this time.

-- 
Michael T. Richter
Email: [hidden email], [hidden email]
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Yitzchak Gale
In reply to this post by braver
After many years of OO Perl, I looked at Python.
Within fifteen minutes I had switched, and I never
looked back at Perl.

A few years later, I had a need to hack into the
Python interpreter. While reading up on that,
I came across references to Haskell. I soon
realized that everything I liked about Python
had been borrowed from Haskell in diluted
form.

-Yitz
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

S. Doaitse Swierstra-2

On Jan 29, 2007, at 9:53 AM, Yitzchak Gale wrote:

> After many years of OO Perl, I looked at Python.
> Within fifteen minutes I had switched, and I never
> looked back at Perl.
>
> A few years later, I had a need to hack into the
> Python interpreter. While reading up on that,
> I came across references to Haskell. I soon
> realized that everything I liked about Python
> had been borrowed from Haskell in diluted
> form.

I do not think you are entirely right here; a lot of things were  
borrowed from a language called ABC, developed by Lambert Meertens  
and Steven Pemberton at the CWI as a substitute for Basic.

See: http://homepages.cwi.nl/~steven/abc/

Doaitse






>
> -Yitz
> _______________________________________________
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> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Yitzchak Gale
I wrote:
>> I soon realized that everything I liked about Python
>> had been borrowed from Haskell in diluted form.

Doaitse Swierstra wrote:
> I do not think you are entirely right here; a lot of things were
> borrowed from a language called ABC,
> See: http://homepages.cwi.nl/~steven/abc/

True. I wasn't claiming that most of Python itself
came from Haskell; just the things I liked most
about it. But you're still right - there are probably
things that I liked about Python that didn't
really come from Haskell - but Haskell has them,
nonetheless.

I wonder if ABC's layout rules were inspired by
ML and/or Landin's off-side rule, or were developed
independently.

Regards,
Yitz
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Jeremy Shaw
In reply to this post by braver
Hi,

I was working in embedded development, writing lots of C code. My
primary tool for debugging things was turning an LED on or off. So, I
became quite interested in figuring out how to write code with less
bugs.

After some searching, I found lclint, (now knows as splint:
http://lclint.cs.virginia.edu/). lclint performs static analysis on C
code to find things like uninitialized variables, memory leaks, and
tons of other stuff. In order to get the most out of it, I had to
annotate my code like this:

extern char *gname;
extern /*@truenull@*/ isNull (/*@null@*/char *x);

void setName(/*@null@*/ char *pname)
{
  if (!isNull (pname)) { gname = pname; }
}

Although marking up the code was a bit tedious, the amount of errors
that it caught was astounding. And, typically, my code actually worked
on the first try after I fixed anything lclint complained about.

I decided that this thing static error analysis stuff was pretty
spiffy and set out to look for a language that had it built-in by
default. I originally started with Concurrent Clean 1.x, but
eventually settled on Haskell (GHC 5.04) for reasons I do not
remember. I think it may have been because Haskell seemed to have a
bigger, more active community (which is still true today).

j.
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

David Kirkman
In reply to this post by braver
On 1/28/07, Alexy Khrabrov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?  I've taught ML at UPenn, and many

For some diversity ...

For years I'd been using (and largely happy with)
pure fortran with a little tcl thrown in for scripting.
I'd played around with a few other languages for kicks
(Java, Lisp, c++), but never really found anything
to pull me away from fortran for good:  it's easy,
insanely portable, and code I wrote in 1988 still works
without modification.

About 2 years ago I ran into a stability problem
while taking numeric derivatives.  In a moment of
inspired procrastination, instead of properly fixing
the problem I decided that I needed 'automatic
differentiation'.

Google.
A series of fantastic papers by Jerzy Karczmarczuk.
Wow.
Google.
GHC.
Can't get it installed on my mac laptop.
Stop.

Months pass. (probably more like a year) In a later
moment of procrastination, I find John Hughes' "Why
functional programming matters".  After seeing Romberg
integration implemented in a handful of lines, I was
hooked.  But the real kicker was the performance of
GHC -- after getting it installed I benchmarked the
Hughes's code against a Fortran integrator.  I don't
remember the exact numbers, but the execution times
were within a factor of a few of each other (I was
expecting 2-3 orders of magnitude).

While I'm not yet entirely sold on the practicality
of the language (things move very fast, and it seems
to be very difficult for me to stick with haskell98),
it's just too much fun to not use.  I'm now using it
daily in a scripting role and one-offs, and I'm seriously
considering using it over fortran in a new workstation
analysis code. (Actually, the 'fun' aspect of it is
providing a just a *bit* of motivation ...)

Cheers,

-david k.
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Dan Mead
I find it odd when people talk about portability in languages. Form me that has always been a given (I started my first language, c++ in 2002).

I got into Haskell and FP in general when I took advanced languages at my uni and I still write haskell java and c++ regularly.

On 1/29/07, David Kirkman <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 1/28/07, Alexy Khrabrov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?  I've taught ML at UPenn, and many

For some diversity ...

For years I'd been using (and largely happy with)
pure fortran with a little tcl thrown in for scripting.
I'd played around with a few other languages for kicks
(Java, Lisp, c++), but never really found anything
to pull me away from fortran for good:  it's easy,
insanely portable, and code I wrote in 1988 still works
without modification.

About 2 years ago I ran into a stability problem
while taking numeric derivatives.  In a moment of
inspired procrastination, instead of properly fixing
the problem I decided that I needed 'automatic
differentiation'.

Google.
A series of fantastic papers by Jerzy Karczmarczuk.
Wow.
Google.
GHC.
Can't get it installed on my mac laptop.
Stop.

Months pass. (probably more like a year) In a later
moment of procrastination, I find John Hughes' "Why
functional programming matters".  After seeing Romberg
integration implemented in a handful of lines, I was
hooked.  But the real kicker was the performance of
GHC -- after getting it installed I benchmarked the
Hughes's code against a Fortran integrator.  I don't
remember the exact numbers, but the execution times
were within a factor of a few of each other (I was
expecting 2-3 orders of magnitude).

While I'm not yet entirely sold on the practicality
of the language (things move very fast, and it seems
to be very difficult for me to stick with haskell98),
it's just too much fun to not use.  I'm now using it
daily in a scripting role and one-offs, and I'm seriously
considering using it over fortran in a new workstation
analysis code. (Actually, the 'fun' aspect of it is
providing a just a *bit* of motivation ...)

Cheers,

-david k.
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RE: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Bob Davison
In reply to this post by braver
>From: "Alexy Khrabrov" <[hidden email]>
>To: [hidden email]
>Subject: [Haskell-cafe] How did you stumble on Haskell?
>Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 19:01:57 -0800
>
>How do people stumble on Haskell?

-- snip

>What's folks most interesting ways to arrive at FP?
>
>Cheers,
>Alexy


I have been programming other stuff for years (APL, C, Assembly, Visual
Basic, Java, C#) and a year or two ago I started thinking of going back to
study computing a bit more formally.  Reading web pages of lecturers on
courses that looked interesting I found a few whose favorite language was a
functional programming language called Haskell.  I didn't know anything
about functional programming so I just moved on.

More recently I started to work my way through 'Modern compiler
implementation in Java' by Andrew Appel and he seemed keen on functional
programming and the book covers extending the basic language to a functional
programming language. (I have have read the relevant chapter but not got as
far as implementing it yet!)

Just before Christmas I decided to investigate Haskell.  I got hold of a
copy of Graham Hutton's new book 'Programming in Haskell', which I am
thoroughly enjoying.  Haskell is great fun but as I dig deeper I am finding
my lack of mathematical sophistication to be a problem.

This leads me off thread to ask if anyone could recommend reading for
someone who has done mathematics to college level, but nearly 30 years ago
when many English schools didn't cover 20th century mathematics.  I thought
calculus was about differentiation and integration and was very surprised to
discover that there were such things as 'predicate calculus', 'propositional
calculus', and various flavours of 'lambda calculus'.  I also have little or
no idea of set theory, group theory, domain theory, combinatory logic, ...  
(I can just imagine the surprised looks on the faces of the mathematicians
reading this. You never know computer programmers could be so ignorant, did
you?)

I have no idea how much of this stuff I need to know but I would certainly
like to be able to learn more of this facinating new world and not just be
content with learning how to write a Haskell program.   I just don't know
where to start.

Thanks,
Bob Davison

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Chung-chieh Shan-2
Bob Davison <[hidden email]> wrote in article <[hidden email]> in gmane.comp.lang.haskell.cafe:
> This leads me off thread to ask if anyone could recommend reading for
> someone who has done mathematics to college level, but nearly 30 years ago
> when many English schools didn't cover 20th century mathematics.  I thought
> calculus was about differentiation and integration and was very surprised to
> discover that there were such things as 'predicate calculus', 'propositional
> calculus', and various flavours of 'lambda calculus'.  I also have little or
> no idea of set theory, group theory, domain theory, combinatory logic, ...  

How about "The Haskell Road to Logic, Maths and Programming" by Kees
Doets and Jan van Eijck (http://homepages.cwi.nl/~jve/HR/), reviewed by
Ralf Lämmel (http://arxiv.org/abs/cs/0512096)?

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And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. ??? Elizabeth B. Browning

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Bryan O'Sullivan
In reply to this post by Bob Davison
Bob Davison wrote:

> I
> thought calculus was about differentiation and integration and was very
> surprised to discover that there were such things as 'predicate
> calculus', 'propositional calculus', and various flavours of 'lambda
> calculus'.

The stuff involving rates of change, integration, and differentiation,
is often called differential calculus, or simply "the calculus".  But
"calculus" more generically refers to any system of calculation.  So the
lambda calculus, the various flavours of calculus in symbolic logic, and
so on, don't have the word "calculus" in their names because they're
related to differential calculus or to each other, but because they're
systematic ways to approach calculation.

> I have no idea how much of this stuff I need to know

Very little, but exactly how much, and of what, depends on what you want
to do.  Having a slight grounding in algorithm analysis, an appreciation
of induction, and a bottomless pot of coffee is enough to get started.

> but I would
> certainly like to be able to learn more of this facinating new world and
> not just be content with learning how to write a Haskell program.

If you want a good grounding in thinking about functional code, I like
Okasaki's "Purely Functional Data Structures".  Graham, Knuth and
Patashnik's "Concrete Mathematics" is a good CS-related book that covers
a lot of ground at a leisurely pace.

        <b
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

John Goerzen-3
In reply to this post by braver
On 2007-01-29, Alexy Khrabrov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?  I've taught ML at UPenn, and many

Fascinating thread.

Awhile back, I decided that, once I got familiar and comfortable with a
programming language, I would learn a new one.  I tend a learn a new
language every 1-3 years on average.

I had been a convert from Perl to Python a few years back.  I got
comfortable with Python and decided I want to learn a new language.  I
looked at a number of them.  Rejected Ruby because it was too much like
Python, Erlang because it didn't seem general-purpose enough, Haskell
because its library seemed small at the time and the focus too academic.
I eventually learned OCaml.

OCaml was an interesting experience.  It had some nice features.  But
I/O was absolutely infruriating.  OCaml's default I/O system can't
handle files opened read-write, for instance.  It also has two distinct
list-like types: one that's lazy, one that's not, and they require two
distinct sets of functions to work with.  The object system also is
complicated.  The syntax and whole idea of .ml vs. .mli file felt very
dated and the build system was extremely difficult to get right.

So I again searched out a language, with largely the same results for
everything except Haskell.  I can't remember exactly what changed my
mind about Haskell.  It may have been Cabal, it may have been Darcs, or
something else.  In any case, I decided to pick it up.  I was pleasantly
surprised that Haskell seemed to have all the things I liked from both
Python and OCaml and none of the annoying things from either.

It's been a fun experience.  Haskell is the only language I've ever
learned in which I have used it for something like 2 years, written
numerous applications, developed several libraries, even written links
to C and Python, and still consider myself a newbie.

And that is a GOOD thing.

-- John

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Chad Scherrer
In reply to this post by braver
I started using Python around 1998, and I loved the elegance of it, but I was frustrated with the performance. Around 2001 I was poking around for something that would give me better performance but still allow some nice capabilities for abstraction.

I started using OCaml after reading a commentary from one of the Shootout guys that he had been impressed with it. I loved the performance and the parametrized modules, but the lack of overloading was frustrating. Once I was looking for a nice rule of thumb for when to use foldl vs. foldr, and was disappointed to hear "Just use foldl - it's tail recursive." Maybe there's a place for folding right in a strict language, but I haven't seen it.

Once I was deep into OCaml, Haskell kept coming up, since so many people using OCaml also like Haskell. Seeing some elegance in "A Gentle Introduction to Haskell" and not immediately understanding it got me hooked right away. And there's a time to fold right!

Chad

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

szefirov@ot.ru
In reply to this post by braver

> What's folks most interesting ways to arrive at FP?

Mine isn't most interesting.

I did some interesting (I think so) research in visualisation and coded
it in C. Then I tried to extend it - speed it up, add more features,
etc, - and found C unsatisfactory. It is error prone and C programs
cannot be modified easily.

Then I tried some macro languages, M4 and like, again without
satisfaction - the same modification failures. No one can keep things
tied up for me.

Then I search and roam, I left my visualisation research behind
programming languages field and found Haskell. It got me by syntax then
by type system.

I still hope I'll return to visualisation research.

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

J. Garrett Morris
In reply to this post by braver
On 1/28/07, Alexy Khrabrov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?

My story isn't as interesting as some of these.  My first quarter in
school, I took a course taught in Scheme.  I expressed some
dissatisfaction with the lack of types (and, in particular, the
collection of bugs that would have been easily caught with one), and
the grad TA pointed me to ML.  Some time later, I was talking to
another prof. in the hall about ML, and an older guy walking by
suggested that I was wasting my time and should go learn Haskell.  At
the time, the most obvious tutorial was the Gentle Introduction, which
left me confused for about a year or so, but eventually (and I have no
memory the trigger), I started writing code in Haskell and was
completely hooked.

(Incidentally, I eventually found out who the older guy was - Doug
McIlroy - and he ended up advising my honors work.  All in all, a very
convenient meeting.)

 /g
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Tim Chevalier
In reply to this post by braver
On 1/28/07, Alexy Khrabrov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> How do people stumble on Haskell?

I was thinking that my story wasn't particularly interesting, but then
again, I may be the only person on this list who can actually give a
properly-cited publication as an answer to the question "how did you
learn Haskell?":

Patricia Johann and Franklyn Turbak, Lumberjack Summer Camp: A
Cross-Institutional Undergraduate Research Experience in Computer
Science, Computer Science Education 11(4), Dec. 2001. -
http://cs.wellesley.edu/~fturbak/pubs/cse01.pdf

The shorter answer is, "I got paid to learn it," when I was an
undergrad, and so I find those of you with real jobs and real lives
who learn new languages in their copious free time with no particular
extrinsic motivation for it to be particularly admirable.

Cheers,
Kirsten

--
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"Relax. I'm weird, not violent."--Brad Boesen, _Disturbed_
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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Lennart Augustsson
In reply to this post by braver
On Jan 29, 2007, at 03:01 , Alexy Khrabrov wrote:

> How do people stumble on Haskell?

Well, I didn't really stumble on it.  I was at the 1987 meeting
when we decided to define Haskell.

But I stumbled on functional programming in the first place.
I had to learn it because it was part of a course in denotational
semantics.  The language was SASL.  And then I read David Turners
paper on combinators, and I was hooked.

        -- Lennart

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Re: How did you stumble on Haskell?

Joel Reymont
I'll go for the shortest story...

I stumbled upon Simon's "Composing Financial Contracts" paper, Simon  
was gracious enough to spend a fair bit of time on the phone with me.

The rest is history :-).

        Joel

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