[Haskell-cafe] Explaining monads

Derek Elkins derek.a.elkins at gmail.com
Tue Aug 14 19:34:54 EDT 2007

On Tue, 2007-08-14 at 12:40 -0500, Lanny Ripple wrote:
> Derek Elkins wrote:
> > What people need to do is stop reading two page blog posts by someone
> > who's "just got" monads and read the well-written peer-reviewed papers
> I have taught many people to program in group settings and 
> individually in my career.  I have referred them to many 
> tutorials.  I have used many examples from tutorials I thought 
> were useful.  I can't recall a single time I've ever turned to a 
> beginner and said, "And you really should brush up on the 
> peer-reviewed papers to learn this part."

How about a book?  You've never recommended a book?  But even so, where
did I say tutorial?  The -are- good monad tutorials, they are just
horribly out-weighed by bad ones.  Further, having a tutorial as
supplement to person-to-person education is totally different from
trying to learn purely from tutorials.  Also, what is wrong with papers
or recommending them?  Finally, how often have you been part of a
community where the primary mode of documentation is a research paper...

> > by the people who clearly know what they are talking about.  Luckily,
> > for monads applied to Haskell we have Wadler, a witty, enjoyable and
> > clear writer/speaker.  All of Wadler's monad "introductions" are
> > readable by anyone with a basic grasp of Haskell.  You certainly don't
> > need to be even remotely an academic to understand them.  I'm willing to
> > bet that many people who say they don't understand monads and have read
> > "every tutorial about them" haven't read -any- of Wadler's papers.

> I'm confused.  Are you praising Wadler or bashing the tutorials 
> (or both)?  *I* was carping about the tutorials (and even 
> mentioned that Wadler was my breakthrough) so I suspect we are in 
> violent agreement.

I'm praising Wadler and bashing the good majority of monad tutorials,
but not all of them.  Mostly I'm pointing out an unreasonable aversion
to reading papers, as if a paper couldn't possibly be understandable.

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