Sunday, December 21, 2008

I want my Unicode keyboard

"You see the typographical limitations we're still saddled with? The mock-wounded :( and the actually-wounded :( aren't slated to have distinct code points until Unicode 17."
     -- Jon Zeppieri

Sign o' the times

"Who would have thought a discussion about lambda syntax in JavaScript
would go over 120 posts while a simultaneous thread about class syntax
has had little attention outside a handful of posters?

Would this have been reverse 10 years ago?

Sign of the paradigm shift? Maybe folks want an immutable cons cells too?"
     -- Peter Michaux

Friday, December 19, 2008

A small peeve

Whenever I write a function with an external wrapper and an internal recursive function (say, to add an accumulator), I can never come up with a name for the internal function that I find satisfying. This is totally picking nits, but it bugs me for all the recursive calls to be to foo/aux or foo/helper or something like that. Come to think of it, somehow the prime symbol in Haskell and ML feels more natural.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hats off to Duff

From an LtU thread:
When I see the phrase "Wiki type systems", I immediately wonder what a typed Wiki could possibly be. (Monadic pages? Contribution combinators? Co-recursive spam?) Of course you mean "Wiki-type systems", systems that are Wiki-like. But I was excited for a minute.
     -- Tom Duff (yes, the Tom Duff)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Author's summary

I spent a few days visiting my alma mater last week and among the many engaging conversations I had were several with my dear friend Gregg Whitworth about incorporating research into a liberal arts undergraduate education. It's very tricky, but Gregg pointed out several aspects of the field of biology that help. Gregg mentioned that many biology papers include authors' summaries. This just sounds like an all-around great idea, and one that's easily implemented: simply add a brief summary to your publications list on your web site.

In some sense an abstract may be useful, but an author's summary could also be used to put work into broader context. Since it's not subject to the restrictions of the paper itself, it also gives authors more freedom to write whatever they like. And the benefit to students could be enormous: one of the hardest parts of breaking into a research field is understanding the larger conversation each paper participates in.