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Applicative functors: definition and syntax

In a recent blog post, Edward Z. Yang talks about applicative functors. He mentions two equivalent definitions of applicative functors - the standard definition used in Haskell libraries (Applicative) and an alternative that has been also presented in the original paper, but is generally less familiar (Monoidal).

The standard definition makes a perfect sense with the standard uses in Haskell, however I always preferred the alternative definition. Edward uses the alternative (Monoidal) definition to explain the laws that should hold about applicative functors and to explain commutative applicative functors, but I think it is even more useful.

The Monoidal definition fits nicely with a trick that you can use to encode applicative functors in C# using LINQ and I also used it as a basis for an F# syntax extension that allows writing code using applicative functors in a similar style as using monads (which is discussed in my draft paper about writing abstract computations in F#). And I also think that commutative applicative functors deserve more attention.

Published: Tuesday, 21 August 2012, 2:23 PM
Tags: research, haskell, f#
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Why type-first development matters

Using functional programming language changes the way you write code in a number of ways. Many of the changes are at a small-scale. For example, you learn how to express computations in a shorter, more declarative way using higher-order functions. However, there are also many changes at a large-scale. The most notable one is that, when designing a program, you start thinking about the (data) types that represent the data your code works with.

In this article, I describe this approach. Since the acronym TDD is already taken, I call the approach Type-First Development (TFD), which is probably a better name anyway. The development is not driven by types. It starts with types, but the rest of the implementation can still use test-driven development for the implementation.

This article demonstrates the approach using a case study from a real life: My example is a project that I started working on with a friend who needed a system to log journeys with a company car (for expense reports). Using the type-first approach made it easier to understand and discuss the problem.

In many ways, TFD is a very simple approach, so this article just gives a name to a practice that is quite common among functional and F# programmers (and we have been teaching it at our F# trainings for the last year)...

Published: Thursday, 16 August 2012, 12:21 AM
Tags: functional, f#, research
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F# Courses and Talks for Autumn 2012 (I.)

Similarly to the last year, I already have a number of F# events planned for the end of the summer and autumn that I'd like to invite you to!

The Visual Studio 2012 has been completed recently and it comes with F# 3.0. For me, this means two things. Firstly, it is the second Visual Studio version of F#, which means that functional programming is worth taking seriously. Secondly, F# 3.0 comes with type providers, which is a killer feature for working with data. No matter if you're a C# programmer now to functional programming or if you're an F# user in the real-world, I hope you can find some interesting and useful event below!

The two main things that I'm going to be involved in are SkilsMatter trainings in London and New York and a few events at the biggest functional conference (ICFP) in Copenhagen...

Published: Wednesday, 8 August 2012, 3:47 AM
Tags: functional, links, presentations
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