[Haskell-cafe] Can Your Programming Language Do This?

Reilly Hayes rfh at reillyhayes.com
Wed Aug 2 14:50:37 EDT 2006

I don't think this commentary is really fair.  It's also insular and  
bad for the reputation of the Haskell community.  There are enough  
barriers to exploring FP and Haskell already.  The purpose of the  
article was to encourage people to start taking baby steps toward FP,  
not to demonstrate a deep mastery of the subject.

Joel's blog is read by a wide range of technology people, most of  
whom have a principally OO background.  Javascript was the obvious  
choice (it's more widely used than any other language with lambda  
nature).  The word Functor is heavily overloaded in computer  
science.  His use of the word is clearly a reference to the Functor  
Design Pattern and was appropriate for his readership.  Sure, it's a  
long distance from the meaning of the word in category theory, but  
who really cares?

I actually think that the appropriate paper to cite would be "Lambda:  
The Ultimate Imperative" by Guy Steele in 1976.  It doesn't matter  
how old the academic literature is.  If the lessons from the  
literature are not in widespread use, then it isn't a bad thing to  
try to popularize them.

What he did at MS as a developer & development manager arguably made  
them a boatload of money.   His own company seems to do quite well.   
All of this gives him high quality commercial credentials.  An  
article in his blog can do a great deal to help FP (lazy or strict)  
be more widely appreciated.

Reilly H.

On Aug 2, 2006, at 11:14 AM, Jared Updike wrote:

> So basically he rediscovered Why FP Matters
> (http://www.math.chalmers.se/~rjmh/Papers/whyfp.html) ~15-20 years
> after the fact, but neglected to point out the interesting fact that
> one can write map in terms of reduce (i.e. foldr) (obviously he didn't
> read the paper) and ignored the benefits of laziness. Also, if your
> programming language has this ability and it's so great, why is this
> not idiomatic? (i.e. people using for loops all over the place in
> JavaScript).
> (Sorry, couldn't find a place to comment on Joel's blog).
>  Jared.
> On 8/2/06, Stephane Bortzmeyer <bortzmeyer at nic.fr> wrote:
>> >From the excellent programming blog "Joel on software", a very good
>> text if you need to convince Java or C programmers that functional
>> programming is a A Good Thing.
>> Probably all the readers of this list will find it brings nothing new
>> (that's perfectly right) but it is oriented towards ordinary
>> programmers :-)
>> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/08/01.html
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> -- 
> http://www.updike.org/~jared/
> reverse ")-:"
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