Functional conference, 2015

Last year, I had attended the rather useful, first edition of the, Functional conference, and returned this year too.

I walked in when the keynote, by Amit Rathore, was in progress. The talk seemed to veer in the direction of “functional-programming-awesome, functional-programmers are ninjas, or some equivalent fighter hero types”. I am not big fan of that sort of messaging; it does not appeal to me. But it was interesting to note that Amit’s company continued to build on the advantages that functional languages provided, and were able to keep the organization nimble and productive, considering their mission to disrupt the media industry.

Ravi Mohan‘s session on “Building a General Game Playing Engine with OCaml and Erlang” was an interesting one – was made aware of the computer based board-gaming space, general game playing , and was nice to hear an experience report from Ravi on how he is working on this idea of his, as a forever project.

The session “Achieving High Uptime with Erlang’s OTP”, by Bernard, and the one following “Haskell In Production”, by Tanmai were ok. It was interesting to see Tanmai’s company – Hasura – using Haskell to build out their PaaS system.

On a whim, I decided to attend the “Rethinking HTTP Apps on JVM with Ratpack”, though its been a while since I used Java or the JVM. Naresha‘s talk was a good introduction to Ratpack, and how it uses Netty, Groovy, and Java 8’s functional programming capabilities, to build web applications.

I didn’t stay back for the fish bowl, and networking dinner. Somehow I felt that Day 1 of the conference did not engage me as much as I had expected. Was wondering whether to return on Day 2.

I decided to attend Day 2. It turned out to be much better than I expected.

Couldn’t make it to the morning session on “Why Julia?”, by Viral Shah. Should have attended that one.

The next session “Introduction to Concurrency in Haskell”, by Abhinav made me love Erlang and its concurreny model even more, and Haskell less. The chat-server example implementation seemed too tedious to me; but then I have not tried out Haskell myself.

Shantanu‘s experience report with Clojure – “Production Clojure: An Experience Report” – was a motivating one. His prolific output of useful projects based on Clojure, and the capabilities of Clojure that he used is now playing on my mind – I need to take a serious look at Clojure. This is the kind of talk that I love.

The lucidity with which Dhaval spoke about Monads in his “DRYing to Monads in Java8” was brilliant. He started from a simple example, and slowly built that into a Monad. He is another speaker whose talk is worth attending, every time. His blog is an actively maintained one, with references to his talks and code contributions.

And then there was this fantastic talk by Srihari – “Carnatic music synthesis in Clojure”. There were so many things note-worthy in this talk; an introduction to formalism in Carnatic music, some Clojure, a presentation where music and code was mixed in delightful proportions, and his passion for this piece of work.

Wow, the day was turning to be a treat, what with the last few talks.

The Code Jugalbandhi, led by Dhaval, with audience participation, where everyone wrote the implementation for snakes-and-ladders in a programming language of their choice, was an interactive and informative one.

Morten Kromberg returned this year for another interesting talk on Dylog: “Parallel Programming in Dyalog using Futures and Isolates”

That ended the day.

Thanks to the wonderful experience reports on Day 2, the conference turned out to be a good one for me.

A mix of experience reports, and sessions like that of Dhaval are definitely high-points that I would like to return to, for the next year’s edition of the conference.

The conference was organized well. This was the schedule.

Some of the events, captured on Twitter: #FnConf15

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