Inside 206-105

Existential Pontification and Generalized Abstract Digressions


Programming is a delicious vice that happens to have some useful byproducts.

The secret to successful autogenerated docs

I've had a rather successful tenure with autogenerated documentation, both as a writer and a reader. So when Jacob Kaplan Moss's articles on writing “great documentation” resurfaced on Reddit and had some harsh words about auto-generated documentation, I sat back a moment and thought about why autogenerated documentation leave developers with a bad taste in […]

Static Analysis for everyday (not-PhD) man

Bjarne Stroustrup once boasted, "C++ is a multi-paradigm programming language that supports Object-Oriented and other useful styles of programming. If what you are looking for is something that forces you to do things in exactly one way, C++ isn't it." But as Taras Glek wryly notes, most of the static analysis and coding standards for […]

Databases are categories

Update. The video of the talk can be found here: Galois Tech Talks on Vimeo: Categories are Databases. On Thursday Dr. David Spivak presented Categories are Databases as a Galois tech talk. His slides are here, and are dramatically more accessible than the paper Simplicial databases. Here is a short attempt to introduce this idea […]

Bug boogie: Git and symlinks

Git is very careful about your files: unless you tell it to be explicitly destructive, it will refuse to write over files that it doesn't know about, instead giving an error like: Untracked working tree file 'foobar' would be overwritten by merge. In my work with Wizard, I frequently need to perform merges on working […]

Design Patterns in Haskell

Attention Conservation Notice. A listing of how Gang of Four design patterns might be equivalently implemented in Haskell. A phrasebook for object-oriented programmers dealing with functional programming concepts. In their introduction to seminal work Design Patterns, the Gang of Four say, "The choice of programming language is important because it influences one's point of view. […]

Art. Code. Math. (And mit-scheme)

I was in rehearsal today, doodling away second oboe for Saint Saens' Organ Symphony for the nth time, and it occurred to me: I've listened to and played this piece of music enough times to know the full overall flow as well as a good chunk of the orchestral parts, not just mine. So when […]

The Problem with xUnit

Tagline: Assertions considered not ideal. I think automated tests are great. I used two particular flavors of test, the unit test and the integration test, extensively in HTML Purifier and they're the only reason why I feel comfortable making changes to code that I first wrote in High School. The automated tests let me hack […]

Creative catamorphisms

The bag of programming tricks that has served us so well for the last 50 years is the wrong way to think going forward and must be thrown out. Last week, Guy Steele came in and did a guest lecture "The Future is Parallel: What's a Programmer to Do?" for my advanced symbolic class (6.945). […]

Hunting for abstractions in mathematics

Abstraction (n.) The act or process of separating in thought, of considering a thing independently of its associations; or a substance independently of its attributes; or an attribute or quality independently of the substance to which it belongs. (Oxford English Dictionary) Abstraction is one of the most powerful beasts in the landscape of programming, but […]

History as documentation

It's real easy to argue about the utility, style and implementation of source code comments, those good ole' pals of code that try to add supplementary information when the pure code isn't enough. However, to focus solely on the latest snapshot of any particular source file is to miss a wealth of information that is […]