Readable Functional Languages

Tim Peters tim_one at email.msn.com
Thu Feb 3 05:06:33 CET 2000


[Carel Fellinger]
> Admittedly off topic, I would like some advice on what language to
> choose to explore the realm of functional languages given that I
> can't cope with'impure' languages like C, C++ and Perl and that I
> love Python mostly for its readability and its adherence to the
> principle of least surprise that lures me into thinking that it
> has no dark corners.

So long as you're just out exploring and don't mind making any actual
progress for a while <wink>, point your browser to

    http://www.haskell.org/

I've often noted that Haskell is the most Pythonic of all the languages that
have nothing in common with Python <wink>.  Not entirely flippant:  Haskell
gave a lot of thought to syntax (it uses indentation too, btw), clarity of
expression, and clean semantics.  It's a joy.  It's also a purely functional
language, and if you're not used to that you'll probably feel lost at first
(no rebinding, no control flow, no side effects).  However, another thing
Haskell shares with Python is a very good intro tutorial, that will have you
not caring about the absence of loops <wink> in short order:

    http://www.haskell.org/tutorial/

If "purely functional" proves too austere for you, any variant of Scheme is
certainly worth learning.  Perhaps GNU's Guile project would be easiest to
approach (since it's aimed at "scripting" applications of Scheme, where
"scripting" is to be taken in the very broad sense it's used in the Python
world).

the-first-word-in-functional-is-fun<groan>-ly y'rs  - tim






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