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[Caml-list] Hitchhiker's Guide to Typing
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Date: 2001-06-08 (23:32)
From: leary@n...
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Hitchhiker's Guide to Typing
On Fri, Jun 08, 2001 at 01:22:05PM -0700, Hao-yang Wang wrote:
> I think by "type theory" you mean the type systems used in modern 
> programming languages. Luca Cardelli has written some nice 
> tutorial/survey on this topic.
> See <http://www.luca.demon.co.uk/Bibliography.html>. Look for the 
> articles "Typeful programming" and "Type systems".

Excellent resources (particularly the "Typeful" doc).  My thanks to you. :)

Seems to beg the questions tho': Is it not possible to learn and use OCaml
without wading through 60 page docs on typing?  Will I have to read more of
these papers to learn the object system?  Modules?

I'm willing to read up on typing, since it seems pretty important to
getting a good handle on FPLs/OCaml, and that's definitely what I'm after,
but I wonder (in advance) if 60 pages can't be turned into far fewer.  I'd
like some feedback on the notion that "if you can't explain it to a
five-year-old, you don't really understand it" (or, rather, haven't given
the simplest, most concise, most practically useful explanation).  By way
of a couple examples, the HHGTTG entry for Earth is "mostly harmless".
Investing can be distilled down to "buy low, sell high".  Not crashing a
motorcycle is a matter of "look where you want to go, don't look at the
ground".  No discussion of gyroscopic effects and psychology.  Of course,
a working knowledge of typing will never be so simple, but contrast, for
example, the "Type Systems" doc above; Table 34 is a good place to look.
This is not what 99.99% of people looking to understand typing in OCaml are
going to want.  If I didn't have a burning desire to learn OCaml/ML, and
someone gave me just this document (and thanks for including the other
one!) as a way of explaining the typing lingo, I'd give up and go back to
what I was doing before, assuming that OCaml was every bit as obscure,
difficult, and unrewarding as Unlambda:


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