12/13/2010

Going bananas

This week I will be visiting Klaus Ostermann and his team. I am going to be a guest lecturer in Klaus' programming languages lecture. I am going to misuse this opportunity for a rehearsal of my upcoming Channel9 lecture on bananas. I eat 2 bananas over the last 42 hours in order to get into the right mood.

The talk announcement follows.

Speaker: Ralf Lämmel, Software Languages Team, Universität Koblenz-Landau

Title: Going bananas

Slides: [.pdf]

Abstract:

Banana is functional programming slang for "fold", say an application of the catamorphic recursion scheme---most widely known in higher-order list processing in the tradition of the Bird-Meertens Formalism and the Squiggol community.

In this talk, I will present various kinds of folds, and thereby show the omnipresence, versatility, and expressive power of folds in different areas of programming. This presentation will integrate work by others and my own in a balanced manner, while aiming at broad coverage of bananas and good accessibility of the subject that is sometimes unjustly considered difficult, if not esoteric. Fold is one of the few swiss army knifes of functional programming. Even if you have to code in Java, knowledge of fold will help you to better understand what you are doing with collections, functors, visitors, or otherwise.

The presentation is structured as follows. First, the basics of higher-order list processing are recalled. Second, folds and friends are examined from the more abstract point of view of iteration over general (abstract) containers as opposed to concrete lists. Third, folds are put to work to serve parallel data processing based on list homomorphisms, and Google's MapReduce and Sawzall approaches are revisited in this context. Fourth, folds are generalized beyond lists, in fact, beyond containers---so that data of arbitrary algebraic datatypes can be processed in catamorphic fashion, thereby entering the area of generic programming. Finally, the "Scrap Your Boilerplate" style of generic programming is presented as a logical continuation of previous work on folds and friends.

Bio: [.html]

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