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The Functional Approach to Programming Paperback – October 29, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; English Ed edition (October 29, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521576814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521576819
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #885,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a valuable contribution to programming practice...Cousineau and Mauny convincingly demonstrate the elegance and conciseness of the functional approach." Computing Reviews

Book Description

In functional programming, logical concepts are evident and programs are transparent so can be written quickly and cleanly. The authors introduce the subject via examples and explain what programs compute and how to reason about them. They show how the ideas can implemented in Caml, a dialect of ML, and give examples of how complex programs from various areas can be developed in close agreement with their specifications.Many exercises and examples are included throughout the book; solutions are also available. An appendix gives all the code used in the book in Standard ML.

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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Brent Fulgham on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Functional programming requires a much different mindset than standard "procedural" languages such as C, Perl, Python, and others. This book does an excellent job of teaching the reader about these concepts.
The language of choice (CAML) used in this book requires some effort to learn. Certain elements of its syntax are non-obvious, and the internal type checking can be irritating until you learn that the rigorous checks result in safer programs. (An interesting side-note is that OCaml, compiled to native code, is in most cases very nearly identical in speed to straight C. Visit [...] for details).
This is not an easy book. I found myself flipping to prior chapters to reread sections that I thought I understood on the first pass, but had not. This is no fault of the author, but rather the of the unfamiliar nature of the territory covered.
This book covers a lot of ground. As the other reviewer indicates, if you liked SICP, you will like this book. It covers a lot of the same ground, and provides an excellent grounding in various data structures and so forth.
One final note. Although the book is a translation from French, I found the english to be perfect. There were no slips into incorrect syntax or confusing idioms. My hat's off to the editor/translator.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read the french edition of that book and found it to be one of the best book about (functional) programming I know. The authors first quickly introduce the CAML language (an ML variant) and then proceed with real-world examples. The reader will for example learn how to manipulate arbitrary-precision numbers, how to compile regular expressions or how to solve some common games. If you've read and liked Abelson and Sussman's "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs", you'll like that book too. I strongly recommend it to anybody interested in CAML or SML, or in functional programming.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By "dennisdjensen" on October 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have not much to add to the other two reviews.
I've read "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" (SICP), and like many others found it one among the best if not *the best* computerbook I've ever read. I think that "The Functional Approach to Programming" differs a lot from SICP. This is not to say, that it's bad, rather that I think it's very different from SICP. Its focus is much more on semantics (ML of course, not Scheme), correctness (in the scientific sense) and algorithms.
It offers plenty on the functional approach to implementing algorithms like trees and sets. The semantics are elaborated in a clear and concise style, that I've been able to track even though I have no degree in computer science at all (I'm just an auto didact from "the street").
For someone not familiar with functional programming like me, I find this very good. I have a background in C, Java, C++ moving toward more highlevel languages like Scheme, Lisp, Ruby, SmallTalk and Python in the latter years.
It is very succinct with plenty of code examples like SICP. The code doesn't fill too much, since the functional style is a lot shorter for solving complex problems than the equavalent imperative program examples I've seen in C++ and Java. The focus is on the scientific correct thing to do, rather than a more ad hoc focus on "best practices" giving way to a more firm ground for choosing style and algorithms to solve a particular problem. The "best practices" are there of course, but in a transparent way, like small paradigms of code (somewhat like Peter Norvig's "Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming - Case Studies in Common Lisp").
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By ws__ on May 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is clearly a first class book. But if you want to `read' it, you should know in advance what you are doing. So what are the prerequisites? "The Functional Approach to Programming" is an excellent start to read. Is that enough? Well if you are very determined and willing to invest a lot of effort and pain probably yes. Readers, who just want the intellectual enjoyment and esprit of "Functional Approach to Programming", will need a more solid basis. Like medium programming experience in at least one functional language.
The book contains three parts:
(I) Basic principles
(II) Applications
(III) Implementation
`Basic principles starts' from the beginning and has in principle very little assumptions of further knowledge. The style is as elegant as in one of the great French mathematics books. In `Applications' one has the litmus test of understanding. Here the authors use the full power of the concepts demonstrated in the first part. It is dense, elegant and with very little redundancy. The last past gives you some ideas how CAML itself can be implemented.
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Used as a textbook for a course that used OCaml to study functional programming, and was useful even though the language under discussion in here is ML. This is because the focus of the discussion is language-agnostic from a conceptual standpoint and does not tie too strongly to any components of any specific language.
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