December, 2010

Dec 10

I got 99 problems but dynamic ain’t one

If you got runtime errors I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but dynamic ain’t one

I got the cube patrol on the code patrol
Foes that wanna try and keep my source out of control
Ruby writers that say he’s “Science Strict Not-Bold”
I’m from university stupid what type of facts are those

If you grew up with segfaults in your joes
You’d celebrate the minute you was havin’ stable codes
I’m like avoid Python it can’t handle my whole payload
If you don’t trust my types you can take my tests off hold

Got beef with podcasts if Iron’s on they show
When those brakepoints hit they don’t know what’s missed
Soft’ mags try an’ ignore my syntax
So readers can buy more tools from ads…

I don’t know how you be writin’ that
without understanding the power that type systems have
I’m from calls to lambdas dude, I ain’t dumb
I got 99 problems but dynamic ain’t one
Hit me

99 problems but dynamic ain’t one
If you got runtime errors I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but dynamic ain’t one
Hit me

Dec 10

An F# Ant Colony Simulation in Silverlight 4.0 with Dynamic AI Loading

I’ve been enviously watching Phillip Trelford publish excellent F# games all week and tonight I just couldn’t stand it anymore.  I stayed in, rolled up my sleeves and ported the very same ant colony simulation I used in my CUFP workshop to Silverlight 4.0.

Install Microsoft Silverlight

Wow, just look at those little guys go at it.  Silverlight sure is pretty!

As you might have noticed by the big white “Click To Load Custom AI” message, you can also compile your own AI and battle it out with what I’ve included here.  To make things easy I’ve provided a ready to go solution.  Simply load it up, compile it and select the compiled DLL.

Once you’ve loaded your AI the game will immediately start.  Best of luck to you against my little monsters, so far they’ve been undefeated.  If you happen to come up with an ant-dominating example I hope you’ll post it here in the comments.  There were some really creative ideas in the CUFP workshop and I’d love to see what could be done with more than just four hours.

If your interested in the gory details of the simulation itself, I’ve put up a github repository with the entirety of the code.  And just in case you’re wondering, I’m still planning on running that contest.  Expect a ton of cool new AI features and a big focus on combat.


Update:  I’ve mucked with a few things.  Mainly, it will be a bit nicer when handling AI exceptions now.  While I was at it I tweaked some of the game world parameters and so you’ll need to re-download the example solution if you already have it.

Dec 10

In Retrospect: The F# in Education Workshop

I was taking the elevator down after getting settled in my hotel room and as the doors opened I was awestruck by the sight of Don Syme sitting on a couch, typing away on his laptop. With a bit of trepidation I walked up to him and introduced myself.  It was immediately obvious that he was both a very friendly fellow and very excited about something in particular.

Don turned his laptop to me and said “look at this”. It was a blog post detailing the release of F# under the Apache 2.0 license. Needless to say, my mind was blown. I was dumbstruck.

Don Syme announcing to the world that F# would forever be under the Apache 2.0 license. (Photo courtesy of Migel de Icaza)

We then proceeded to dinner in the hotel restaurant. Miguel de Icaza was there, and if you know Miguel you know he’s the life of the party. He became even more animated when told about F# becoming open source and pledged to get the source integrated into Mono as soon as possible.

Later that night the Hotel turned into some kind of giant dance party and fashion show.  Thinking of the day ahead we all returned to our rooms.  I did sneak back down later though to grab a celebratory book-publishing nightcap with Ted Neward.  It’s old hat for him, but I’m still reeling from it.

Announcing Professional F# 2.0! (Click for Video)

To be honest, I was a bit intimidated by the idea of speaking to a room full of PhDs. Because of this, I put far more thought and practice into this 30-minute presentation than any of the much longer talks I had given before. Having my material down pat, I was able to turn that anxiety into gusto with what I feel was great success.

While presenting I noticed that the entire room was laughing at my jokes at first but by the end most seemed rather serious.  I took this to mean that many were offended by my critique of current teaching techniques. Had I been too heavy handed with my language?

Afterward my fears were allayed by the enthusiasm of those who came and spoke with me. Later, a swath of positive reviews confirmed that, while I may have been skirting the edge, I hadn’t gone too far.  Even so, I think I’ll try to be a bit softer in my approach in the future.  As they say, you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Judith Bishop
Queen of Microsoft Research

Miguel de Icaza
Lord of all things Mono

Tomas Petricek
F# Jedi

Joe Pamer
Tamer of F# Compiler Lions

Photos Courtesy of Microsoft Research

That night I had dinner and drinks with some of the most brilliant people. Conversation ranged from type systems to the future of F# and Mono. I ended up staying up quite late talking with Tomas about his future plans. It looks as though he has a ton of great stuff for the F# community right on the horizon.

Howard Mansell
The F# Prophet of Credit Suisse

Richard Minerich
Who invited that guy anyway?

Photos Courtesy of Microsoft Research

The next day Howard and I took the train back to New York and discussed our plans for NYC-wide F# domination. Howard is almost single-handedly responsible for Credit Suisse’s rise as one of the biggest F# using companies. They now number over 100 F# users strong and continue to grow. Combined, we might just be unstoppable.

All-in-all I’d say that the event was a great success both personally and for F#. In a couple of years we’ll see some of the first big batches of graduates educated in statically typed functional programming. At that point, those the imperative object oriented camp will need to start playing catch-up.