OCaml, Language syntax, and Proof Systems

Xah Lee xahlee at gmail.com
Sun Jan 25 05:31:14 CET 2009

Language, Purity, Cult, and Deception

Xah Lee, 2009-01-24

[this essay is roughly a 10 years personal retrospect of some
languages, in particular Scheme and Haskell.]

I learned far more Ocaml in the past 2 days than the fucking 2 months
i tried to learn Haskell, with 10 years of “I WANT TO BELIEVE” in

The Haskell's problem is similar to Scheme lisp, being academic and of
little industrial involvement. About 10 years ago, during the dot com
era around 1999, where scripting war is going on (Perl, tcl,
Applescript, Userland Frontier, with in the corner Python, Ruby, Icon,
Scheme, in the air of Java, HTML 3, CSS, CGI, javascript), i was sold
a lie by Scheme lisp. Scheme, has a aura of elegance and minimalism
that's one hundred miles in radius. I have always been a advocate of
functional programing, with a heart for formal methods. Scheme, being
a academic lang, has such a association. At the time, Open Source and
Linux have just arrived on the scene and screaming the rounds in the
industry, along with Apache & Perl. The Larry Wall scumbag and Eric
Raymond motherfucker and Linus T moron and Richard Stallman often
appears in interviews in mainstream media. Richard Stallman's FSF with
its GNU, is quick to make sure he's not forgotten, by a campaign on
naming of Linux to GNU/Linux. FSF announced that Scheme is its chosen
scripting lang for GNU system. Plans and visions of Guile — the new
Scheme implementation, is that due to Scheme Lisp's power will have
lang conversion abilities on the fly so programers can code in other
lang if they wanted to, anywhere in the GNU platform. Around that
time, i also wholeheartedly subscribed to some A Brave Gnu World
bulletin of FSF with high expectations.

Now, it's 2009. Ten years have passed. Guile disappeared into
oblivion. Scheme is tail recursing in some unknown desert. PHP
practically and quietly surpassed the motherfucking foghorn'd Perl in
early 2000s to become the top 5 languages. Python has surfaced to
became a mainstream. Ruby is the hip kid on the block. Where is
Scheme? O, you can still hear these idiots debating tail recursions
among themselves in newsgroups. Tail recursion! Tail recursion! And
their standard the R6RS in 2007, by their own consensus, is one fucked
up shit.

In 2000, i was a fair expert in unix technologies. Sys admin to
several data center's solaris boxes each costing some 20 grands.
Master of Mathematica and Perl but don't know much about any other
lang or lang in general. Today, i am a expert of about 5 languages and
working knowledge with tens or so various ones. There is nothing in
Scheme i'd consider elegant, not remotely, even if we only consider

Scheme, like other langs with a cult, sold me lie that lasted 10
years. Similarly, Haskell fucked me with a tag of “no assignment”
purity. You can try to learn the lang for years and all you'll learn
is that there's something called currying and monad. I regret i
learned python too in 2006. Perl is known for its intentional
egregious lies, lead by the demagogue Larry Wall (disclaimer: opinion
only). It fell apart unable to sustain its “post-modernistic”
deceptions. Python always seemed reasonable to me, until you stepped
into it. You learned that the community is also culty, and is into
certain grand visions on beauty & elegance with its increasingly
complex syntax soup with backward incompatible python 3.0. The python
fuckheads sport the air of “computer science R us”, in reality they
are idiots about the same level of Perl mongers. (Schemers and Haskell
people at least know what they are talking about. They just don't have
the know how of the industry.)

I think my story can teach tech geekers something. In my experience,
the langs that are truely a joy to learn and use, are those sans a
cult. Mathematica, javascript, PHP, are all extremely a joy to use.
Anything you want to do or learn how to do, in so far that the lang is
suitable, can be done quickly. Their docs are to the point. And today
i have to include Ocaml. It's not about whether the lang is
functional, or whether the lang is elegant, or what theoretical power
it has. Also, lang of strong academic background such as Scheme and
Haskell are likely to stay forever there, regardless what is the
technical nature of the lang. The background of the community, makes
half what the language is.

Disclaimer: All mentions of real persons are opinion only.

∑ http://xahlee.org/

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