An eventful month in a few words

I haven’t written for a long while, because the past few weeks were packed with excitement. First my hp2any work had to be finalised for Google, and I couldn’t even touch it ever since thanks to all the events that followed. After a brief holiday I went to ICFP and spent the whole week in Edinburgh. Besides the conference, my personal package included the Haskell Symposium and CUFP. It was a great experience, especially because I could meet all these weird people. I spent the next two weeks back in Budapest and went to two FP-BUD meetings during that time among all the less interesting day-to-day duties. The topping of the cake was last week, which I had the pleasure of spending in New York thanks to Jane Street and our JSSP participation with Csaba. After two days of freely roaming in the city we went to the meeting that Yaron already blogged about, then I spent the rest of the week in Newark and South Orange at IFL, and gave a talk about Elerea on the first day. Yes, it was a lot of FP fun in such a short time. And by now I’ve even recovered from the rather exhausting nine-hour flight from JFK to BUD...

The main reason of this post is to complement Yaron’s and show you some pictures (by the way, sorry for the quality in advance) of the JSSP meeting. The trip was a real treat, but I’m not going to recall the days before the meeting. Suffice it to say, New York is highly shocking for someone who spent all their life in Europe. We were basically walking around in Manhattan for two days and tried to absorb as much of it as possible – which is more fun to actually do than to be told about.

The meeting itself started off with a welcome speech.

The essence of it was a shopping list of mostly FP related issues (language features as well as practices) that gave a general idea what using FP in the wild looks like. The whole talk was supported by a single slide with the list on it, but I forgot to take a photo of it. That is a pity, because it would be wonderful flamewar material. ;) Thankfully, it was in huge contrast with the bulk of IFL, so I wouldn’t risk being exposed to a one-sided view over the week.

Afterwards, the first session was about Yaron’s favourite projects, and I can only agree with him seeing all the work that went into them. The very first talk was about Ocamlviz, given by Guillaume Von Tokarski:

It is kind of embarrassing to me, because it really makes my hp2any work pale in comparison. Just look at their project page.

The next one was about the Moby compiler, this time given by Shriram Krishnamurthi:

I already encountered this project at ICFP, and even from that crop it stood out to me with all the real-life results they have in making maths accessible to kids. Danny Yoo gave the same talk on it at IFL a few days later.

After lunch, the next session started with Bertrand Desmons presenting his graphics library.

Even if the work is not finished yet, it still looked fine to me considering the time frame of the summer project, especially knowing how much struggle we had to go through. Having said that, the next talk was about Lambdacube. Amidst all the excitement I forgot to take a picture, so here’s one about the rehearsal:

I plan to write more about the project in a later post. Csaba being the perfectionist he is was not really satisfied with his own performance, but I wouldn’t be so harsh. We started the summer with a piece of hack and ended it with an extensible base and a heap of features implemented.

The last project talk was given by Duru Türkoğlu about his work on the computational geometry library.

I have to admit that I had a hard time following parts of this talk, not being familiar with the area or the depths of SaSML. In that sense, it was a warm-up for the conference days... I had the impression that the emphasis was more on the research than the implementation in this project, so it was slightly different from the rest in its nature. But this only supports the observation that this year’s JSSP projects covered a wide area, and it wasn’t only diverse in terms of the implementation languages.

After the talks we had a demo session, where everyone could wander around and have a word with the creators.

Here’s a screenshot from Lambdacube interacting with the Bullet physics engine:

Yes, we piled up some cars just for fun. You can also do it soon yourself, as the new version of the engine as well as the renewed Bullet binding is bound to be released soon. I’m not sure why, but the program on the photo is called ‘Lambda-Cube GLFW UnsafeFRP Example 1’, so beware.

After the demo session, as a penultimate treat before the dinner, Chris Okasaki told us some fun ‘insider facts’ about his book.

Besides the Slashdot anecdote mentioned by Yaron I liked the part when he recalled how his creative crisis combined by outside pressure was resolved during an inspirational walk home. Moments of enlightenment are always nice to hear about, especially since I have so few of them myself. And even if I normally hate sappy happy endings, sometimes I am willing to make an exception. ;)

The dinner at the end put the crown on the day as we often say in Hungary. We had a chat, ate a lot of good food and ended the day with a walk in the most colourful part of the city. All thanks to Jane Street for making this happen!