[Haskell-cafe] Haskell for Physicists

Jack Norton jack at 0x6a.com
Wed Sep 30 15:08:02 EDT 2009

Khudyakov Alexey wrote:
> В сообщении от Среда 30 сентября 2009 22:25:14 вы написали:
>> Khudyakov Alexey wrote:
>>> В сообщении от 30 сентября 2009 21:42:57 edgar at ymonad.com написал:
>>>> Hi,
>>>> I will give a seminar to physicists at USP (Universidade de São Paulo,
>>>>  Brazil) university and they asked me for a good title, something that
>>>> can attract physicists. Anyone has some suggestions? (Will be a seminar
>>>> about the use of Haskell to substitute C or Fortran
>>>> in a lot of tasks, and how it can be used in some problems instead of
>>>> Matlab, Mathematica, etc.)
>>> What area of physics? They all face somewhat different problems from
>>> computation.
>>> Could you publish your slides from seminar (if any) and even if they are
>>> in Spanish (nothing is impossible for man with a dictionary)
>> I am also interested in seeing the slides (being a physicist myself).
>> Also, that'd be portuguese, not spanish, that would be spoken in
>> Brazil.  The dictionary comment still applies though :)
> I suppose you aimed for cafe but missed. (:
Yep, sure did.  I just hit `reply' assuming haskell-cafe was in the 
reply-to.  I do that more often than not it seems.
Going back to the OP, what area of physics, and how on earth are you 
going to convert years of fortran users to haskell?
I mean, in particle physics (were I came from) it seems as though only 
recently have they moved from fortran to C++ (note: C was skipped).  
There are things written in python (like Athena) but, well..., they are 
unreliable crap (I do like python though).
In fact, when I was in undergraduate, not 4 years ago, a PhD student was 
writing his big QCD project in fortran from the ground up.  I'm not even 
familiar enough with fortran to attempt such a thing (I would have used 
C).  Case in point, I think there are some areas of physics that exist 
as a communal project (i.e. experimental particle physics) and because 
of this, you are limited to the tools and data used by your peers 
(Athena, Geant4, etc...).  It is really hard to introduce anything new.
So I guess my advice would be to avoid Haskell as a 'replacement' for 
anything to a physicist (including mathematica -- which I never liked 
myself).  They will immediately ignore you.  Approach it as a new tool, 
and focus on what it can do that software-x can't.    

That was my take on it though, so it may be a bit incorrect and/or biased.


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