Lim H.

Professional engineer by day. Standup comedian wanna be by night. Aspiring writer when in transit.

Reflection on Brent Yorgey's Haskell Class

I have just finished working through Brent Yorgey’s Haskell class. Although I skipped one week on I/O, or rather I switched to some other exercises, because I disliked that particular assignment, I have to say this is probably the best free Haskell guide for beginners on the Internet.

1. Roadmap

  • Before: Admittedlly, before starting this course, I had read through Learn you a Haskell without attempting anycode. Needless to say, nothing really stuck. Although I developed a very high level appreciation for the language, I was still starting from 0.
  • Process: I spent roughly a month on 12-week worth of material and assignments, excluding the final project. Each assignment took me between 3 to 8 hours to complete. Here is the repository of my solutions and below is the commit graph:

Fig. 1 | Commit graph

  • After: After finishing all the exercises, I am now confident in my understanding of all major concepts. In particular, I think I get Applicative Functor and Monad now. I really, really like the applicative style of programming. Besides, it feels to me that the applicative laws are a lot more intuitive to understand than the monadic laws.

2. Highlights:

[...] the essence of Applicative programming: computations have a fixed structure, given by the pure function, and a sequence of subcomputations, given by the effectful arguments.

*McBride & Paterson*
  • I highly recommend the exercise in week 6, which teaches you how to calculate Fibonacci sequence using generating functions with an infinite data structure. That’s f*cking awesome.
  • The Applicative Parser exercises in week 10-11 are also worth thinking deeply about. In addition, reading the applicative paper with a pen and paper provides a lot of good insights into how the applicative typeclass came about and how it is used.
  • Everyone should read The Trivial Monad if they are struggling to understand this structure. As I feel like monad has been hyped way above its real difficulty level, this article will bring it back down to earth.
  • I was tripped up by some tricky concept and asked about it on SO. The answer blew me away. I also blast an email to the haskell-beginners mailing list, from which I received some very nice responses.

3. Next step:

I’m pretty happy with my progress at the moment. Next week I will follow the instructions in Write yourself a Scheme in 48 hours and then, maybe next month, finally write my own SQL parser for a project I have been dreaming of.