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Before teaching OCaml
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Date: 2007-01-07 (18:15)
From: David Teller <David.Teller@u...>
Subject: Before teaching OCaml
  Dear list,

 I'm going to start teaching OCaml soon and I'm fishing for ideas and
suggestions. I hope this list is the right place to ask.

 Within a few weeks, I'll be teaching OCaml to a class of second-year
students in _mathematics & informatics_. The bad part is that their
knowledge of computer science is limited to 3 term-long lectures of
"algorithmics" (read "Java under Windows"), and that they have nil
knowledge of Unix/Cygwin or Makefiles, or even Emacs or command-lines.
The good part is that a number of them consider Java "not mathematical
enough", so they may be good candidates for functional programming.

 I'm planning to base my lecture roughly on part 1 of _Developing
applications with Objective Caml_, perhaps replacing the chapter devoted
to Graphics with the use of LablGTK. Then again, perhaps not. Some
low-level graphics might be interesting for them. I also intend to give
them a term-long project to work on and develop.

Right now, I see the following difficulties:

* the environment -- under Windows, is there any viable alternative to
Emacs + the MinGW-based port ? 

* the Makefile -- I've found OCamlMakefile [1] but I haven't tried it
yet, hopefully it's simple enough for my students to use without too
many arcane manipulations

* the task -- for the moment, I have no interesting idea of OCaml-based
projects. Perhaps something like finding the shortest path along
subway/train lines ?

Thanks for any idea/suggestion/comment,
  And a Happy New Year

[1] http://www.ocaml.info/home/ocaml_sources.html