Haskell Symposium

Not sure if I got very much out of the Haskell Symposium today. After three days of ICFP I think I’m just a bit overloaded. On the plus side, every single talk contained at least one interesting nugget, but overall there wasn’t anything which really excited me. It was nice to see more about how GHC works. And I was certainly interested to hear about Jean-Philippe Bernardy’s lazy parsers from Yi – I had worried that it would be quite easy to trip up and accidentally cause everything to be evaluated, and indeed it sounds like that’s probably true. Conal Elliott’s talk about FRP reminded me about my previous (non-FRP!) job writing various physics simulators .. having done it in an imperative and stateful fashion, I completely understand the appeal of a composable declarative approach!

One other thing I noticed today; I keep forgetting that each ~30 minute talk is actually a distillation of maybe a year’s worth of work. Therefore, everyone who talks appears to me to have a superhuman ability to recognize problems, generalize them and instantly apply complex idioms to form a solution! Given the breadth of material covered at the conference, it’s somewhat of a whirlwind. But, whilst I only understand some modest fraction of what I’ve seen, I am starting to get a better idea of what kind of stuff people are working on, and what kind of approaches people take. It also makes me more aware of what kind of things I find interesting (and conversely, not interesting!) and where I might better target my efforts in the future.

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