[Haskell-cafe] Haskell Singapore Meetup

Corentin Roux corentin.roux at gmail.com
Thu Dec 26 10:34:27 UTC 2013

Hi Jesse,

Just saw your email. I started the data science team at Zalora and was 
behind the adoption of Haskell.

As a short background, I didn't know how to program 2 years ago, when I 
left a finance job for a small startup in Australia. I didn't know anything 
about business intelligence either, and started with excel sheets. But the 
work was very repetitive so I picked up programming to try and automate 
some of it. After I moved to the South East Asian version of the same 
company, Zalora, I had read up a lot more, including books like SICP, and 
all of Paul Graham's essays. I liked both his concept of the "blub" ladder 
of abstraction, and his idea of using a programming language as a "secret 
weapon". Lisp is nice, but the pure nature of Haskell and the work that was 
done on the compiler both convinced me that it was a better secret weapon 
to solve my issue of not having enough budget or time to set up a standard 
BI setup (I separately was not too happy with SaaS providers anyway, so 
decided that in-house was the only way we could afford what I wanted). 

I had picked up enough Haskell to hire the first person (Dat Le) on the 
basis of his answers to a bunch of exercises we used as a filter (we were 
also helped by Hisham Zarka, current CMO of another Rocket company, Namshi 
and former Googler in MV). Dat did an extraordinary amount of work acting 
as proof of concept, much of it in Haskell, so it worked out even better 
than expected and we picked up enough budget to build a proper team. We 
called it "Data Science" because that seems to be the current buzz word for 
hiring smart guys.

Haskell is unique in that:
- it has a well defined standard with enormous amounts of research going 
into it (both the language, and its libraries);
- the purity simplifies scaling, which I already needed, as well as all the 
standard improvements from catching most bugs before compiling, shorter 
code, etc.;
- it is relatively hard to write Haskell that compiles as a beginner, thus 
acting as a natural talent filter (that can be expanded upon: it also 
attracts the kind of people who enjoy programming for its own sake, just 
like Lisps). 

I would disagree that there are very few people that know the language. I 
did put up my first ad as Python, with a preference for people with 
"experience in FPLs, like Haskell, Clojure, Erlang or Scala". I had over 
200 applications, of which less than 5% were people we'd consider working 
with (mostly "Greetings! I believe my extensive experience and considerable 
skills make me an ideal fit for your company."). Every ad thereafter has 
been in Haskell, and on average over half the applicants are good enough to 
be hired (which is a great situation to be in as an employer, although I 
feel bad for the Haskellers meeting so few opportunities). The community's 
quality is simply exceptional. 

I'll post more about its use, which is rapidly expanding beyond "data 
science", in a few weeks. 

If anybody is interested: http://www.haskellers.com/jobs/61



Le samedi 21 décembre 2013 05:59:30 UTC, Jesse Armand a écrit :
> Hi Paul, 
> A follow-up from the meetup. I was tired yesterday after work. So, didn't 
> have the energy to socialize. 
> Just a few of my thoughts. First of all, it was a good start to promote 
> haskell in Singapore. 
> I'm very new to Haskell. I did some ruby, python and node.js at a very 
> small scale before. Most of time I do Objective-C programming as a job. 
> Just finished reading Higher Order Functions, and will start learning 
> about making my own typeclasses. This is based on 
> http://learnyouahaskell.com. So, I barely know anything about the 
> language. Though, I'm aware that its popularity is growing, and also the 
> existence of a haskell web framework such as Yesod.  
> So, for this reason, I am curious about how Zalora decided to choose 
> Haskell as a programming language. Given that, there are very few people 
> who know the language. It will also be great to understand where is it 
> being used on the technology stack, and some examples of how Haskell is 
> really advantageous for a particular use case. 
> Thanks
> On Wednesday, December 18, 2013 6:12:52 PM UTC+8, Paul Meng wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I've already posted on the reddit but forgot to post it here. 
>> It's going to be Christmas, and a good way to celebrate it is to have a 
>> Haskell meetup. On this Friday, Dec 20. We are going to host it at Google 
>> Singapore office.
>> http://www.meetup.com/HASKELL-SG/events/154702892/
>> There would be a short sharing and have some time to meet with other 
>> Haskell programmers (or FP programmer in general) after the talk.
>> If you happen to be in Singapore, welcome to stop by!
>> For people signed up before, notice that we are moving from Zalora to 
>> Google's office to have a bigger meeting room. 
>> And due to the access policy, please fill out your full name, e-mail and 
>> company in the following form.
>> https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1pTQA3eK7Qsxbq_Tw8nPPX6MIUnQuGsm23rT5bfhtw-8/viewform
>> Paul Meng
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