"Lambda Dance", Haskell polemic,...

Jerzy Karczmarczuk karczma@info.unicaen.fr
Mon, 02 Apr 2001 13:10:25 +0100

Dejan Jelovic wrote:
> Jerzy Karczmarczuk wrote:
> > Over and over again the same silly song, by a person who - visibly -
> > had never anything to do with functional languages, who thinks now
> > about hiring some C and java programmers living in Belgrade
> I don't understand how you deduced I "never had anything to do with
> functional languages"? Any how is it relevant to the subject at hand that
> I'm hiring Java and C++ (not C) programmers in Belgrade?

Well, I managed to annoy you. Sorry. I exploded. I still think you
a good part of it, although I might reformulate it more calmly today.

1. I didn't find ANYTHING about FP on your pages, only that accusations.

2. I don't remember any of your eventual contribution to discussion
   newsgroups, etc. I might be wrong. Please give some references, 
   publications, functional software, etc. I will apologize then
   with regret, but also with satisfaction that the Truth won.

3. Personally you don't care about Haskell. Your page *explicitly*
   discourages local people from touching functional languages, the
   of people you want to hire is a very strong signal. 
   A potential employer who does what you did serves the devil, don't
   to suggest that this isn't relevant.

> > but who
> > writes such silly, incompetent things as:
> >
> > > And there is an air of staleness: where new versions of these other
> > > languages appear frequently, the Haskell community is offering you
> > > Hugs98.
> I don't see why what I said is silly or incompetent? The Haskell Compiler
> and Interpreters page at haskell.org suggests Hugs98 for newcomers. While
> you and I know that the latest version of Hugs has been released two weeks
> ago, a curious visitor will wonder why there isn't Hugs 2001.
> And the Haskell website is updated rarely in contrast with, say, the Python
> website.

1. Saying that the Haskell community offers Hugs98, and not mentioning
   GHC, nor NHC is either incompetent or provocative. Sorry. It is not
my intent
   to quarrel, nor to offense anybody. But presenting such limited
   on your page is a very bad job for the community. Very bad and not
too moral.

2. A decent programming language *must* be stable. If the main criterion
   the "quality" you attribute to programming languages is the speed of
   modifications, I wonder what don't you accuse of staleness your
   languages: Java and C++. 

3. The fact that Hugs is suggested as a good introductory implementation
   - because it is inexpensive in resource consumption and interactive -
is a
   very good point, not an argument against. It has nothing to do btw.
   your opinion of the *language*, just another pretext to say nasty
   Hugs 2001????   Are you sure that you really know what does it mean
   Show me C++2001, please.

> > Delovic points out that some languages became "immensely" popular,
> > as e.g. Ruby, and that Haskell is marginal.  Hm. this extremely
> > orthodox Japanese essence of O-O programming may have some practical
> > merits, especially those which come from shameless borrowing from
> > Eiffel, Sather, Clu and Common Lisp, but calling Haskell "marginal"
> > or "obscure" informs us not what is Haskell, but who is Jelovic.
> Compared to the usage of C++, Java or Python, the usage of Haskell is
> _marginal_. Visit the computer section of your local bookstore if you need
> to be reminded of that.

[Sorry for the error in your name. Fingerslip.]

1. Oh yes. Thousands of books about Ruby. Actually one, in Japanese.
   Have you looked here:
   This is comparable with Python. Of course, Python IS more popular,
but - -

2. You neglect, and I suspect that you do it on purpose, that the main 
   driving force behind the evolution of Haskell is *RESEARCH*. An issue
   absent from many "popular" languages which are meant to be
   exploitable with very flat learning curve. Haskell is vivid at
   ties, almost every decent higher-education establishment has its
   mentation. The documentation on line is sufficiently good that e.g. -
   students won't even think about going and trying to buy a book.
   [[University libraries, at least in France is another issue. We are
   doing a good job here...]]

   Still, there are more publications on FP every month that I can
   What about Python? Java?

> BTW, you seem to be well-informed about who this Jelovic is. Why don't you
> share that knowledge with us? :)

Oh, but I did.
You seem to be a self-appointed specialist on functional languages, who
expresses in public some very dubious truths, which I find harmful.
all. I know nothing about your status nor the colour of your tongue, I
speaking about your image in *this* context. Most of people reading this
forum will shrug, and throw to the waste-paper basket both postings,
and mine, and this is good. Nothing more to say about you, and if you
I may reformulate my statements: 
"Such biased and incomplete assessment of functional languages should be
 treated not as an information about those languages, but as an
 about the competence and/or good will of the Author".

> > He accuses the Haskell community of not providing libraries...
> Two errors here:
> 1. I didn't accuse anybody of anything. I was just curious about why people
> aren't using Haskell and started to think about it.

I understood this in such a way. You didn't ask questions "why", I
haven't seen 
this curiosity. Perhaps I missed something vitally important between
You are explicitly negative in your *judgement*.

> 2. I didn't say that the Haskell community has not provided the libraries. I
> said the Haskell community hasn't provided the libraries together with the
> compiler in one standard distribution. I think that's needed in order to
> lower the barrier to entry.

There are hundreds of libraries of Java classes and C++ classes and
which are distributed separately. The "standard" GNU distribution of C++
quite limited, there is no point in overloading the standard environment
things whose usage is limited. The ease of installation is also

BTW. the GHC "standard" distribution has an adequate amount of runtime
for normal tasks. It worked for me without any problem.

(And, the "standard" libraries of platform-specific C distributions:
Borland, Solaris etc. are quite different...)

> > Perhaps there is *one* point worth mentioning: the necessity to
> > publish papers about Haskell far from such journals as JFP or HOSC,
> > but to try to reach DrDobbs etc.
> Funny. You said at the beginning of your message that there is "NOTHING"
> serious there. :)

RRight. I found one point worth mentioning. Wonderful, splendid, and
Hereby I declare that you are the winner of this discussion, and I am
loser. Complete KO. 

Bill Halchin defends D. J.:

> I think Dejan has written in a good spirit and has many cogent
> points, especially for example with regard to Python. I guess the
> bottom line is don't be too think-skinned about what seems to me to
> be constructive criticism. In the FPL community, it is easy to
> maintain a siege mentality. 

I scratch my head, and I cannot understand how could I recognize from
the incriminated page the "constructive criticism" and "good spirit".
What I have seen is a total negation, not a single good word, some
cheap pieces of advice (about the publications), and plenty of
misunderstanding (about the relation between the liveness and the
frequency of changes of a language). 

It is very easy to criticize a programming language, especially the one
you don't like nor use personally. This is so cheap, that I find it
simply disgusting. (So, I have even *defended* PERL on another forum,
although I don't like it.)

I have nothing personal against Dejan Jelovic. My "contribution" to the
FP community is - in this context - to show that our opponents are, hmm,
how to say it, in order to avoid offensive words - basing their
on false premises, and they perhaps should learn what is the current
status of the proposed implementations, before publishing their

Jerzy Karczmarczuk
Caen, France