Friday, 30 January 2015

Java Functional Interface

Java's Function and UnaryOperator provided in "java.util.function" package are two examples of functional interfaces and you can use them as a target for lambda expressions or method references, the package contains more interfaces, we will talk about them later. Let us see how they work.

If you had a chance to work with a stream of data, you have noticed what we usually do on the stream is applying some separate procedures to each packet of data or message. For example, processes like:
  • cleaning the message
  • normalizing 
  • looking up the price
  • calculating some index
  • and ...

Java 8's java.util.function package gives us some useful interfaces to facilitate this step by step processing or functional processing. Note that the processes we talked about were all accept one parameter and return one  parameter (lambda calculus like). This is not a limitation because the passed and returned parameter can always be a complex Java Class. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Keep the state with single page application

Loading only one page when you run a single page application (SPA) is not the only benefit of this model for building an application. I think keeping the state of the application in the client's browser is the most important features we can get benefit from it.

Regardless of the way or technology you use to build your web application, if you change or reload the pages, you know you always have a problem of how to pass the state or tracking information from one page to another.

Sample model for SPA
Building SPA with no framework 
Honestly, i hate frameworks, they come and go, sometimes don't have backward compatibility, and many of them don't care about how many people get addicted to and used them. (I know this is life.)

Look at the picture, development of such an application is so easy even without any framework. If you want to do it cleanly, you need to write it in JavaScript OOP like and have the application objects talk to the back end through Ajax request/response.

Writing such an application especially when you want to change UI components or their parameters most of the time is easier than handling them in a fixed HTML tag based application with JavaScript. OK, let us see how we can develop such an application.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Functional Programming, d3.js a good example

If you have ever tried to use d3.js to visualize your data, you already have used some of the features of functional programming. I never forget the difficulty of the first time I tried to understand the d3.js sample codes. In fact, it was d3.js and JavaScript which encouraged me to try to understand the Lambda Calculus itself. Let us take a look at a simple graph, and see how functional programming works here well.

First take a look at the page and its source we are going to talk about.  Here is the d3.js sample graph ...  Just note that the included strange script is nothing but uploaded "d3.v3.min.js" path in google drive.

JavaScript is one of the strangest programming languages you can find, you may have heard of good and bad parts of JavaScript! It lets you use many features of procedural languages as well as some features of event-driven programming, object-oriented and functional programming. d3.js is a single JavaScript function that gives all the visualization support we want to have almost all in functional form.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Java functional programming, Scaling out

In this post I just want to show a single benefit of using functional programming, I'll talk about functional programming in detail later, It does have many benefits and features.

Java 8 supports some of the many functional programming features. Although there are many arguments on the way Java 8 produces binary code for your functional code, but I just wrote a test to see if we can take advantage of functional programming in Java 8 or not.

Defiantly since at the heart of the Java everything is a class, the binary implementation of the functional part will also be somehow class related code, so we have another overhead rather than function calls. I said "function calls", just remind you that when you write a piece of code in a functional style (or lambda calculus) this part of the code will be nothing but calling many functions, and this means pushing parameters, return addresses to the stack, executing code, popping after return and ... This means using memory, many jumps, more CPU instructions and ... which costs much.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Recursion and loop

Loop or iteration needs mutation of at least one variable in a loop body and of course, Lambda Calculus doesn't let you do it! It means iteration is impossible in functional languages but we can somehow simulate it with using recursion.

Infinite Loop
Let us define a term (abstraction) like the following:

T = λx.x x

What if we try to evaluate the application T T, let us see:

T T    (λx.x x) (λx.x x)    (x x) [x := λx.x x]  →  (λx.x x) (λx.x x)  →  T T

As you see, if we try to get the result of this application we get the application itself, in fact, it is kind of an infinite loop, T T is kind of self-applications which usually lead to recursion. This kind of infinite loop is shown by Ω symbol, so you may say that:

Monday, 19 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Evaluation Order, Call by name and value

When you try to evaluate an application, you may have to use many reductions and usually, there is more than one strategy to use on how to choose the order of the reductions. For example, if you have more than one instance of application like λx.T1 T2  in an application (T1, T2, T3 are terms) like the following:

(λx.(λy.T1) T2) T3

Then you can have more than one way to reduce the application and find out the result. For a simple example assume:

T1  = λy.y  and  T2 = x 

So the application will be something like:

(λx.(λy.y) x) T3

Now you can either go from inner side to out:

(λx.(λy.y) x) T3  (λx.x) T3  →  T3     (1)

Or you can reduce from outer to inner, like this:

(λx.(λy.y) x) T3  → (λy.y) T3   →  T3    (2)

Causality and Root Cause Analysis

Software programs crash, people make mistakes, accidents or disasters happen and ... We can't always be ready for all of them or prevent all of them but we do can perform analysis to find out why they have happened and prevent them from happening again. One of the approaches to identify the reasons of a problem is Root Cause Analysis or RCA for short.

RCA helps us to find out the underlying cause or causes of the problems, usually those we don't want to happen, but sometimes when we always get bad results and suddenly we get a good result!!! We can use RCA to find the reasons of having such a good result too.

It is one of the best ways of problem solving because it doesn't try to repair or fix the problem, it looks for the root causes, and when you remove them, the problem will never play with you again.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Working with numbers

Lambda calculus is for functional computation so there is nothing in it as numbers but we can somehow have definitions like what we had for True or False and other logical elements, for natural numbers too. The way we are going to introduce the natural numbers is called Church numbers because he was the one who first introduced this in Lambda calculus.

In this definition a higher order function represents a natural number, depending on what number we are showing we need to use n times composition of a function (any function) on itself to show the number n, look at the bellow:

0 :  x   λf.λx.x  // applying 0 times to the given input
1 : f ( x )  λf.λx.f x  // applying 1 times to the given input
2 : f ( f ( x ) )  λf.λx.f ( f x )  // applying 2 times to the given input
3 : f ( f ( f ( x ) ) )  λf.λx.f ( f ( f x ) )  // applying 3 times to the given input
4 : f ( f ( f ( f ( x ) ) ) )  λf.λx.f ( f ( f ( f x ) ) )  // applying 4 times to the given input

n : f ( f ( ... f ( f ( x ) )  ... ) )   λf.λx.f^n x // f^n means applying n times ...

As you see depending on what number we are going to represent, we composite n times the function on a given single argument.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Logical operators

We saw that we can use the following abstractions to define True, False and If-Then-Else statement:

True  :  λxy.x
False :  λxy.y
if p then x else y : λpxy.p x y 

We are going to use these three abstractions and the reductions rules we talked about before to show how easily we can drive the logical operators in lambda calculus.

Logical AND
There are many ways we can define abstractions for logical operators, let us start with a sample for logical AND. We can define AND operator as follow:

λx.λy.x y x

To show it is correct abstraction, it must comply the truth table of logical AND operator, so if x equals to True and y equals to False we have:

Monday, 12 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Boolean and Comparison

True & False
In lambda calculus, True and False are both functions and at first, they may look like a bit strange, look at them:

True  :  λxy.x
False :  λxy.y

Let us see what they mean. A typical inline conditional statement in programming languages usually is something like the following:

Condition ? TrueStatement : FalseStatement

If we use True and False to simply rewrite it, we can have the definition of True and False:

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Try to understand concepts

The reason of sharing this post with you is that for a second i thought that some may say:

"Who needs these lambda calculus stuff to do functional programming!?"

You may not need, especially if you want to be just a good programmer nothing more. Yes, you can do functional programming if you don't know anything about lambda calculus. I think I already told when I was writing about stability patterns that try not to learn the name of the patterns and then use them because you know the names, instead know the reasons why a software gets unstable and then know how you can make it stable, it is much more effective than learning just the name of patterns and then using them as books say.

Richard Feynman one of the American physicist who had very famous lectures on physics
have a saying:

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You'll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird … I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

Friday, 9 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Conversions and Reduction

There are three methods of reducing or converting a lambda expression. Two methods of conversion and one method of reduction. In some books or papers, conversion rules are also considered as reduction rules. These processes are in fact some rewriting rules to help us to change the appearance of a λ expression in a form we can work with, easier for any reason. A λ expression can't be reduced more is called normal. 

Alpha Conversion
α-conversion is nothing but renaming a bound variable in a λ expression. We all know in mathematics that the function f(x)=2x exactly has the same property as f(y)=2y has, the same idea exists in λ calculus but has a special naming, α-conversion. So both λx.x and λy.y are the equal term, the identity function, we sometimes say that λy.y is the α-equivalent of λx.x. 

It is obvious we can't change x to y in f(x)=xy+x, the same is true in λ calculus. So λz.λy.zy+x is α-equivalent of λx.λy.xy+x but λx.λx.xx+x is not.

Now if you rename a free variable in a λ expression, the process is called substitution, you may need to do some α-conversion before substituting a free variable. This is what we usually do in programming too. When we want to change the name of a variable we need to make sure there is no other variable in its scope with the same name.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Currying and higher order function

As we saw in lambda calculus functions can only accept one parameter, the process or techniques we use to convert a function with multiple arguments into the use of sequences of functions each with a single argument is called currying.

Suppose we have f(x,y)=x+y+xy from NxN to N as below, remember we assumed from the last post that we are not going to use prefix notation to have more simple expressions anymore:


if we want to evaluate f(4,9) we can first evaluate f for x=2, which returns a function like h(y)=4+y+4y or h(y)=4+5y:

λxy.x+y+xy  λx.λy.x+y+xy → λx.(λy.x+y+xy) 4 → λy.4+y+4y → λy.4+5y

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Lean Software Development, "Think big, Act small, Fail fast and Learn rapidly"

Lean Software Development is almost a software version of Toyota Production System we talked about in the previous post. A software development paradigm which emphasizes on minimizing wastes and having best efficiency. If we want to describe LSD in a statement the following will be the best:

"Think big, Act small, Fail fast and Learn rapidly"

Like TPS, LSD has some key principles which somehow fulfill the above statement as follows:

1- Eliminate Waste 
Unfortunately for many of us, if you look around your office you'll find some people who almost do nothing or have small positive impact in the project development and life cycle. We all more or less know why these people are there, why managers must/like to keep them and can't/don't want to get rid of them (I'll talk about my experience on this issue soon), but if you really want a lean development and can't fire them, you need to use them somewhere or somehow else, otherwise your are wasting the money.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Toyota Production System

I thought it might be a little boring to continue writing about Lambda Calculus, so decided to talk about one of the Japanese management philosophy which has had a huge influence in software engineering too. It is called TPS or Toyota Production System.

TPS is the process Toyota developed and practiced between 1948 and 1975 to use in its production lines. It is based on the Toyota's philosophy which has two main parts:

  • Continuous Improvement:
    • Establishing a long-term vision
    • Working on challenges
    • Continual innovation
    • Solving the source of the issue or problem
  • Respect for People:
    • Ways of building respect
    • Ways of building better teamwork

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, A review and an assumption

Lambda Calculus is a mathematical formal system and the core and foundation of all functional programming languages. If we assume T is a valid expression in λ calculus which we call it term, then the following syntax shows almost the fundamental of this system:

T :=  x   |  c  |   λx.T   |   T T

The above means that every term in λ calculus can be a variable like x or a constant value like can abstraction like λx.T  or an application like T T.

The only thing which is a bit new in this notation is that we never show an abstraction like λx.T which is exactly like something λx.* 2 x, if we just assume T equals * 2 x. We also are not familiar with T T which is a general form of application, we saw examples like (λxy.* x y) 5 10 or (λx.* 2 x) x or (λx.x) λx.x , ... and if you look at them carefully, you'll see these are nothing but T T. We just used parentheses to explicitly show which part of the expression is the abstraction and which part is the term we want to pass to the abstraction, in fact we used (T) T instead of T T.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Lambda Calculus, Application

Application in mathematics is when you choose some values from a function domain and compute the function result for the given arguments, which will be in the range of course. So simply for function f(x)=2x from N to N, f(2)=4 or f(10)=20 are applications. Or for f(x,y)=xy from NxN to N we have applications like f(1,2)=2 or f(5,10)=50 and ...

In λ calculus, the notation for the above examples are like the followings:
  • f(x)=2x , x=2  =>   (λx.* 2 x) 2  // sometimes like (λx.* 2 x 2) but it is a bit ambiguous especially if we don't now * operates on how many operands so i prefer the first version
  • f(x,y)=xy , x=5, y=10 =>  (λxy.* x y) 5 10 or (λx.(λy.* x y) 10) 5

Note in the first example we don't write λx.* 2 x 2 which means the multiplication operator operates on any number of operands and multiply them which means (4x in this case), so we have to use parentheses to show this is an application otherwise it is totally something else.  So always use open and close parentheses to show an application.