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Real-World Functional Programming: With Examples in F# and C# Paperback – January 25, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1933988924 ISBN-10: 1933988924 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tomas Petricek discovered functional programming as a graduate student at Charles University in Prague. He has been a Microsoft C# MVP since 2004 and is one of the most active members in the F# community. In addition to his work with F#, he has been using C# 3.0 in a functional way since the early previews in 2005. He interned with the F# team at Microsoft Research, and he has developed a client/server web framework for F# called F# WebTools. His articles on functional programming in .NET and various other topics can be found at his web site tomasp.net.


Jon Skeet is a Senior Software Engineer at Google, working in London. He has been involved in the C# community since 2002, initially in newsgroups, then through his blog, user groups, international conferences and the Stack Overflow Q&A site. Jon enjoys putting the language through its paces, finding new and interesting ways to use and abuse it.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Manning Publications; 1 edition (January 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933988924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933988924
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. Van Meulebrouck on April 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A hallmark of this book is a very pragmatic, Rosetta stone approach to F#.

Since F# lives in .Net, and .Net is inherently object-oriented; it makes sense to understand something of the mapping that takes place behind the scenes when F# code is mapped into the .Net world.

Many of the interesting new features introduced into C# are actually hand-me-downs from FP (functional programming). This includes generics, LINQ, anonymous methods, lambdas, type inference, etc.. Since many programmers need to use C# in the work-a-day world, it makes sense to understand the functional elements of C# by seeing them in a functional language like F#, where they can be seen in their purest (least hobbled) state. Once these concepts are understood, it is then much easier to understand how to wield these tools effectively in C#.

That said, there are also limits to how much functional programming can be done in C# (and how effectively it can be accomplished). This book clearly demarcates the boundaries of what is (and isn't) feasible in C# vis-à-vis functional programming.

One of the things I liked best about this book is the discussion on why functional programming makes code easier to read, write, and verify. This discussion does not appeal to what might be (for many) inaccessible theory (i.e. denotational semantics, category theory, etc.). Instead it is demonstrated in amazingly simple, straightforward ways! This discussion is very effective.

Another facet of this book's approach that I applaud is the demonstration of lambda calculus. Why would a practical book dabble in theory? There's actually a very pragmatic payoff in doing this: functional programming has a lot of underpinnings in lambda calculus.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michele Mottini on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The core content is fairly good, but it is ruined by the exposition: the same concepts are repeated multiple times in different places (e.g. fold operation, immutable data structures), and there is a ton of redundant verbiage (I don't know how else to call it) that obscures the actual information and makes the reading a slog.

An example of what I mean by 'verbiage' - on page 156:

....Let's now analyze how it works in some more detail.

6.4.3 Evaluating the example step by step
It can take some time to become confident with high-order functions like these,
especially when they are nested. We're going to examine how the code from the
previous listing by tracing how it runs for a few sample inputs. Moving from the
abstract question "What does this code do in the general case?" to the concrete
question of "What does this code do in this particular situation?" can often help
to clarify matter

This does not actually say anything - it just introduces what it's going to be written after - that you are going to read in any case. This is a page I opened at random - the book is full of this - constantly telling you what you just read and what you are going to read.

On top of this some more advanced stuff like continuations gets short (and not very illuminating) explanations - that is sort of galling in the middle of all this redundant stuff.

It could have been a good 200-300 pages book, instead it is a mediocre 500+ pages ones.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on January 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I usually don't like tutorial-style books, but am finding this one invaluable. More than the other F# titles to date, it explores at length what makes functional programming different, and what this means in a .NET context. A unique feature is the running comparison of F# with both traditional and "functional style" C#. Code listings are nicely labeled with arrows pointing out important details. The book is not intended as a language reference, and only lightly touches on the imperative and object-oriented sides of F#, or contents of standard .NET libraries, but this allows a more leisurely and thorough treatment of the distinctively functional concepts and their implications for program design. Highly recommended.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrei Mouravski on January 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Functional Programming for the Real World, by Tomas Petricek and Jon Skeet,
introduces the functional programming paradigm by comparison to more traditional
imperative programming techniques. The first part of the book goes through many
common programming tasks and compares how you would implement them in the C#
programming language and then re-introduces the problem from a functional
perspective using F#. It introduces simple ideas such as recursion and how to
use recursion to simulate many iterative constructs to the idea of higher-order functions, all the while keeping the explanations and examples very clear. The
author also strives to instill good functional design practices in the reader by
introducing different ways to think of functional programs and common design
patterns that can assist in clean implementations.

The second half of the book dives into more advanced functional concepts, such
as lazy evaluation, efficiency, and continuations. It also takes a look at
using functional programming for practical tasks. Overall, this section is more
suited towards someone who understood the majority of the first half of the book, or to someone who is already familiar with functional concepts.

I would recommend this book to newcomers and intermediate programmers who are
looking to learn about or refine their functional programming skills. The
authors do a good job of covering the core material and also introduce a good
amount of advanced material towards the end of the book.
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