[ProgSoc] Thinking, Functionally and Imperatively

Jenny Nguyen knockycode at progsoc.org
Sat Mar 18 20:50:11 AEDT 2017

Unfortunately I learned java first before I tried Haskell but I can see why
the audience member had to switch thinking processes to understand java and

Interesting perspective. Maybe I'll try Scala this year as it seems less
daunting now (depending on my next role as I may be too busy working with
JavaScript and its libraries instead...)

How about everyone else?

Jenny (who had to send this once to Tom and then to the Progsoc list.
Strange to try to remember to hit Reply All instead of just Reply again)

On Sat, 18 Mar 2017 at 4:31 pm, Tomislav Bozic <tomchristmas at progsoc.org>

> Hi!
> Last Tuesday, having developed a nascent desire to broaden my horizons,
> I attended an introductory talk on Scala. It was an interesting enough
> talk. The speaker demonstrated how one could become productive with the
> language almost right away, even if one was not familiar with the
> functional paradigm, that is to say, one can program in an imperative
> style in Scala before moving up to its functional features when one is
> ready to do so. Most of the stuff relating to 'monads' and 'implicits'
> went largely over my head. Nonetheless, it has provided a springboard
> for further exploration of Scala.
> The thing that interested me the most from the meetup, however, was the
> Q&A session, where an audience member regaled his experience about
> learning programming languages, which to me was somewhat surprising and
> unorthodox.
> For you see, he learned Haskell first(!) during his high school years.
> Then, when he went to uni, he learned Java, which he found to be a bit
> of a struggle, since he had to adjust to a totally different way of
> thinking (sound familiar?). He said something along the lines of: with
> imperative languages such as Java, the programmer is required to keep
> track of state (of variables and whathaveyou) in their head, whereas
> functional languages, which are supposed to be stateless, do not have
> such a requirement...and that threw him off.
>  From this, one could conclude that functional languages aren't
> necessarily harder than imperative languages to learn, they just require
> you to think differently.
> So I'm wondering if this rings true to you.
> Also, has anyone else here learned how to program in a functional
> language before touching a more 'traditional' imperative language[1]?
> Tom
> P.S. I should probably go to more of these meetups, if for no other
> reason than to come up with things to talk about...
> ---
> [Subject:] Kudos to anyone who recognises the allusion in the subject of
> this email.
> [1] or, as I call it, learning to fly before learning to walk.
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