15 February 2007

Richard or Edna? (And Graham Hutton's Programming in Haskell)

For some reason, Richard Bird's Introduction to Functional Programming Using Haskell, 2nd Edition, is now listed on Amazon as written by "Edna Bird" (and coauthored by "Wadler" with no first name). Assuming Richard is not actually undergoing a transformation along the lines of Walter Carlos to Wendy, this looks like an error...

Anyway, my copy of Graham Hutton's Programming in Haskell arrived from Amazon. The first remarkable thing about this book is that it is the thinnest book on Haskell I've yet seen. The highest page number is 170. It is even thinner than The C Programming Language, Second Edition.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means the chapters are very brief. It is a beginner's text aimed at novices, even those who may have not programmed (in any language). I would definitely consider using it as a textbook for an introductory programming class. (I have a dream about teaching a programming class to gifted high school students or college first-year students before they have had their minds corrupted by too much Java or C++; we'd learn a little Haskell, Scheme, and Dylan, in that order, and then use our perspective gained to take a brief look at Java, Pascal, and BASIC. In that order, implementing a parser for Pascal and a complete implementation of BASIC. We'd start with this book. But anyway).

The explanation of curried functions (or how "all functions with multiple arguments are curried") is the clearest I've seen. So is the explanation of basic types and classes. His chapter on recursion is also a model of clarity. (I'm pleased to see it goes above and beyond Fibonacci numbers). In general, Hutton seems to be encouraging his readers to think like programmers think, but he doesn't require very many words to get his ideas across.

If you are busy like I am, you don't have time to read a long review, either, so I'll just conclude by saying that this looks like the introductory Haskell text!

08 February 2007

Graham Hutton's Book has Shipped

Amazon tells me that my copy of Graham Hutton's Programming in Haskell has shipped. Excellent!

With the passage of time and the assistance of an acupuncturist, the nerve damage and eye sensitivity left in the wake of my shingles infection has healed, to the point where reading is no longer quite so painful. And I don't have to wear my sunglasses to work on the computer anymore!

So, soon, hopefully back to actually writing some Haskell, as opposed to just reading about it. I have a couple of small real-world programs to try porting from Ruby, which should be educational. More soon!