Friday, September 25, 2009
Just fifty years ago, John McCarthy circulated a notice that he would be giving an informal talk that he thought would be of interest. I drove up to MIT from New Jersey to attend this seminar of typical length in a typical classroom. But the seminar was anything but typical. It was a revelation. In one session at the blackboard, John introduced Lisp—all you could do with car, cdr, cons, cond, lambda, and recursion.
In the course of the lecture John introduced the usual basic list functions like copy, append and reverse (quadratic and linear), as well as tree manipulation. He went on to higher-level functions, demonstrating maplis and lambda. By the end of the hour he had put together a powerful little toolkit of functions which he used in his finale: symbolic differentiation of univariate expressions.
There it was—functional programming ex nihilo. McCarthy acknowledged IPL V and recursive function theory, but the elegant and practical face he put upon these antecedents was a work of genius.
Me: Attending seminars by John McCarthy was one of the highlights of my undergraduate years at Stanford. For more on JMC:
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
When getting started with a new language, I like to use a site that has excercises for programming practice. A great site for this is Project Euler; it gives you short problems to solve, and once a problem is correctly solved you are given access to the forum for that problem which contains hundreds of solutions written in different languages. Each of the problems are designed to be solved by some combination of mathematical insight and computer programming.
Chrome Frame is a new browser plug-in developed by Google to give you a Chrome browsing experience inside of Internet Explorer. Let me restate that slightly to make it more clear: Chrome Frame turns IE into Chrome.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Cheerleader: Bwana, Bwana
All: Sooey, Sooey, uh uh uh.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: the Ars Technica review
Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard has landed. This time around, Apple goes light on the glitz in favor of some heavy work under the hood. John Siracusa dives deep into Apple's new OS offering to see what's new, what's still the same, and whether it's worth upgrading.