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A Taste of Haskell

"A Taste of Haskell" was a tutorial given by Simon Peyton Jones during the OSCON 2007 conference. It introduces programmers to the Haskell programming language using the xmonad window manager for X. The complete video of the tutorial is available in two parts (Part 1; Part 2; about 798 MB in total) and lasts for about three hours. The slides for the tutorial are also available (PDF; about 7 MB; 119 slides). The first time I read about this tutorial was in a post on Jao Ortega's blog. I have been meaning to check the video out ever since, but only now have I been able to finish watching it completely.

It is amazing to see Simon in action. He shows a lot of infectious enthusiasm and passion about Haskell and is an engaging and witty speaker. My only complaints with the video are that the voices of the members of the audience were not audible when they were asking numerous questions and that the projected slides were barely visible in the video, making it a bit irritating to have to shuffle back and forth between the video and the slides in a separate reader application.

Haskell comes across as a language well worth learning. It is a functional programming language that emphasises purity and laziness, while making it seemingly simple to interface with native code and embrace state. "A History of Haskell" (PDF; about 1 MB; 55 pages) gives an interesting account of the genesis of this programming language. It is difficult to miss Haskell if you read programming.reddit.com.

My resolve to learn Haskell has become stronger after having watched this video. If you are interested in computer programming, you owe it to yourself to check out this video.


  1. mathai-saar, monad == overhead transmission, every time i tried it. but i will conquer it one day like foucalt's pendulum. i'm sure there is some mallu functional programming pun hiding here waiting for you to find and publish (the mind wanders to molaaad ...)

    but the rest of haskell is very nice. programs read like equations (much more so than ML).

    but i would still advise that you spend 30 min to learn python first!

  2. Hmmm...am learning Haskell now. Why not treat Monads as a way of thinking about state machines?

    Have to agree though that Python offers a quick-and-elegant way of solving the usual sort of scripting/automation problems code monkeys like me run into.

    Curious to know what mallu geeks like RMathew and anonymous 1 above think about Python's garbage-collector. I read somewhere that it is pretty bad...

  3. Anonymous #2: I still haven't "properly" learnt Python or Haskell - they have been on my "TODO" list for quite a while.

    That said, since version 2.0, Python apparently has had a reference-counting memory-reclaimer backed by a garbage-collector to collect objects retained by cyclical references.

  4. I don't know Python either, just enough to get the job done...

    Perhaps you can do a post on garbage collection? Tell us about your experiences with the GNU Java compiler...

  5. Anonymous: I am not qualified to write much about a garbage-collector.

    GCJ uses Boehm-GC and Hans Boehm has put a lot of great reading material (including a link to Paul Wilson's GC survey paper) about GCs on that page. When you get some time, do go through them.

  6. About to wet my feet with Haskell with the RWH book..lets see what it is has got :)


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