- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 28, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521643384
- ISBN-13: 978-0521643382
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,869,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Haskell School of Expression: Learning Functional Programming through Multimedia
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"...a rather unusual and very interesting book for the functional programming community...The author's style is wonderful, and he is good at explaining the material...This book is unique in the field of functional programming." Computing Reviews
Functional programming is a style of programming that emphasizes the use of functions (in contrast to object-oriented programming, which emphasizes the use of objects). It has become popular in recent years because of its simplicity, conciseness, and clarity. This textbook, aimed at beginning and advanced programmers, teaches functional programming as a way of thinking and problem solving, using Haskell, the most popular purely functional language. Rather than using the conventional (boring) mathematical examples commonly found in other programming language textbooks, this text uses examples drawn from multimedia applications, including graphics, animation, and computer music, thus rewarding the student with working programs for inherently more interesting applications.
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In agreement with other reviewers, this is not an optimal first Haskell book. The approach that worked best for me when ramping-up with Haskell was to use this text in combination with online tutorials and the O'Reilly "Real World Haskell" volume. This provided a good balance of essence, philosophy, coverage and practicality.
This book might have been a good contender for the title of "The Joy of Haskell". I enjoyed it and will keep referring back in moments when I want to recapture core functional programming concepts that apply not only to Haskell but to the functional programming genre as a whole.
That being said, the quality of the book construction itself is terrible. I know this is a paperback; I shouldn't expect too much. The paper is fairly dark, as standard for recycled paper. However, the ink is very faded. Sometimes letters or whole words are not fully inked and you have to guess what symbol was there. The little "Detail" boxes which aim to highlight asides are especially hard to read since the background is a medium gray, the washed-out text barely contrasts, and to make matters worse: these elements seem pixelated and blurred.
Overall: I wish I just bought the eBook version and printed it out myself. It would be better than this copy which seems to have been printed out of a 30 year old Xerox machine with a toner cartridge composed of pencil shavings. I'm never buying a physical copy of a Cambrige Press book again.
The cover is cool and trippy though
All that being said, I do find the book a delightful read. So long as a potential reader use this as supplemental material rather than foundational material the text worth a look. Indeed the criticism that I and others have leveled assumes a specific intent on the part of the author that may not be what the author had in mind. This book is an excellent high level look at how one versed in imperative or object oriented programming can shift their thinking into solving problems with functional mechanisms.
I personally see the need for learning functional programming as a response to more and more languages incorporating functional paradigms into their tool set, particularly the high level scripting languages that have jumped in popularity of late. Even the STL and auxiliary libraries of C++ have an interesting emphasis on higher order functions and the composition thereof that makes a foundation in functional programming worth looking into. This book is an excellent place to look into how functional programming is applied, but I recommend looking elsewhere for details specific to the Haskell programming language.