[Haskell-cafe] Elevator pitch for functional programming

Ryan Ingram ryani.spam at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 17:17:10 EST 2009

I recommend checking out Don Syme's slides from CUFP 2008.


This isn't Haskell directly, it's F#, but it fits the "functional
programming generally", and the two languages have, relative to the
universe of programming languages, more in common than they do

There's a lot of "would you rather write this?" with a giant chunk of
C#, followed by "or this?" with a few readable lines of F#.

  -- ryan

On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 2:07 AM, Jim Burton <jim at sdf-eu.org> wrote:
> Hi, I will be a TA on a comparative PL course and I'm looking for
> small examples (ammunition) which motivate the use of Haskell and
> functional programming generally. The course is for 1st year Software
> Engineers, none of whom are likely to have used a functional
> language. They will all have experience programming Java and a little
> C++, with a few of them knowing Python, Ruby, PHP etc etc too.
> If anyone has code snippets which are the equivalent of an elevator
> pitch for FP, I would be very grateful to see them. What I want
> are some small concrete examples of idioms which are natural and
> powerful in Haskell but difficult or impossible in, say, Java.
> So I can produce examples of some of the things that make FP powerful,
> elegant, expressive etc: higher order functions, polymorphism,
> composition (ask them to write (.)  in Java :-)), partial application
> and so on. I will point any interested souls to Hughes' great paper
> [1]. But I have little time and it might be hard to put across why
> they would want to do these things in the first place. I was looking
> for something that speaks directly to the kind of problems they face
> in languages like Java...
> Types are a good example because Java programmers generally already
> appreciate the help they get from compiler messages etc, so you can
> sell a more flexible, enhanced form of this. Purity might appeal to
> anyone who has longed to be able to reason about nastily complex code
> with a lot of shared state. Laziness, streams? Hard to do in Java (I
> presume) but also quite hard to sell the need.
> The existence of an O'Reilly book will help, especially one that can
> be sampled online, so I'll point them at RWH for extended concrete
> examples. They will need to be already sold before they will bother
> with that though.
> Thanks,
> Jim
> [1] http://www.cs.chalmers.se/~rjmh/Papers/whyfp.html
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