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Programming in Haskell Paperback – Jan 15 2007
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'The best introduction to Haskell available. There are many paths towards becoming comfortable and competent with the language but I think studying this book is the quickest path. I urge readers of this magazine to recommend Programming in Haskell to anyone who has been thinking about learning the language.' Duncan Coutts, Monad Reader
'Two groups of people must consider this book. The first is professors interested in rapidly introducing students to fundamental concepts in functional programming. This book, supplemented with online resources and professorial guidance could easily serve as the textbook for a semester-long course on functional programming. The second group is programmers interested in surveying the functional paradigm as quickly as possible.' Journal of Functional Programming
This introduction is ideal for beginners as it requires no previous programming experience and all concepts are explained from first principles via carefully chosen examples. Each chapter includes exercises that range from the straightforward to extended projects, plus suggestions for further reading on more advanced topics.See all Product Description
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The form factor of this book is really odd, essentially that of a thick magazine, like _Wired_. It has huge outer margins, with the text compressed into the middle in tiny-looking 9-point type. Thankfully, the printing is crisp, so the text is fairly readable. Choosing to set the code samples in a proportional font seems like a curious choice, especially for Haskell, where spacing matters. For a computing book, the writing is very elegant, although the organization is somewhat less systematic than I was expecting.
The most questionable aspect of this book is its audience. Ostensibly, it is written for a first university course for students with "[n]o previous programming experience", but I'm not sure how good of a fit it would be, especially for a typical U.S. student. Concepts like pointers, parsers, stacks, and compilers seem to be mentioned with the idea that readers would already know what those are. The examples in the book are largely drawn from Hutton's professional publications in functional programming. To me, these were interesting, but it's not clear how much new students would appreciate them. Contrast that with the fact that mathematical induction is discussed at length as if the reader might be unaware of it, and on page 147 the reader is referred back to a previous derivation for justification of the FOIL formula from basic algebra! The selection of exercises seemed kind of sparse for a textbook.
_Programming in Haskell_ is a quick read, and (if you can afford it) is probably a good stepping stone on the way to being a good Haskell programmer.
Nonetheless, rather than define the book for the gaps, I do feel like it is another solid intro to programming in Haskell but nowhere near enough to send a programmer on their way independently. Coupling the book with one of the other two texts is a good idea (Learn You a Haskell ... or the O'Reilly book).
Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!: A Beginner's Guide (available for free online) which is designed to get a programmer unfamiliar off the ground.
Real World Haskell (available online free) which has become the "standard text".
Graham Hutton's book, along with Thompson's Haskell: The Craft of Functional Programming (3rd Edition International Computer Science Series) are good for people starting off and I think that's why the reviews are so mixed. The books are too easy for most of the people who end up buying them. If you want to learn to program and want to do it Haskell -- which will teach you wonderful good habits -- this is a good choice. If you already know how to program try stepping up. The reviews are right that this book doesn't take you far enough.
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