[racket] Where to learn advanced programming skills?

From: Ben Duan (yfefyf at gmail.com)
Date: Mon Jul 22 01:34:48 EDT 2013


Thank you very much for your explanation of the terminologies and your

Sadly, I’m just the person who has little practical programming experience.
I started learning programming seriously about a year ago. As I’m not
coding for a living, I don’t have to write much code. And every time when I
encountered some problems while coding, I thought that maybe I hadn’t got
enough knowledge to start real coding, and a new book might solve my
problems. So I just stopped coding and started a new book. Then I ended up
spending much more time reading than practicing.

Recently I realized that I was wrong, and started doing some small projects.

But I have a question here. If I hadn’t read these books, I would be just
doing the ‘rote practice’ you’ve mentioned, and write FORTRAN code for
every programming language because that’s how I was introduced into
programming. Then how can I know whether or not I could improve on some
aspect if I don’t keep reading and learning?

Thanks and regards,

On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM, Neil Van Dyke <neil at neilvandyke.org>wrote:

> Ben Duan wrote at 07/21/2013 10:25 PM:
>  In this mailing list, I can always find some concepts which are not
>> familiar to me. For example `monad' and `parameterize'. I don't know how to
>> learn about these kind of advanced programming skills systematically. So
>> I'm asking for your suggestions on where I can go next.
> "Monad" is a concept from pure functional programming that is almost never
> used in Racket (although people have implemented monads using Scheme and
> Racket).  If and when you decide you want to learn pure functional
> programming, I suspect you'd take a detour from Racket at that time, and
> spend at least a couple months working through a book and language designed
> specifically for functional programming, like Haskell.
> "Parameterize" is both a generic term you'll find in discussions of many
> languages, and "parameterize" is also the name of a special syntactic form
> in Racket that has very narrow meaning, compared to the generic meaning.
>  Here's one practical view of Racket parameters, being imprecise with
> terminology... A Racket parameter, in the sense of "make-parameter" and
> "parameterize" (you can look them up in the searchable Racket
> documentation) is a way to implement a mutable variable that is global
> and/or has dynamically-scoped bindings.  Changes to these variables can be
> scoped dynamically within a "parameterize" context, and also scoped within
> threads.  Use parameters for mutable global state that you don't want to
> keep passing around as arguments between procedures, and for
> thread-specific state that you don't want to keep passing around.  Use
> "parameterize" when you want to establish a new dynamic scope for a mutable
> variable, such as for thread-local state, or if you with to temporarily
> override a value within the same thread.
>> I have read some commonly recommended books like:
> You've read a lot already.  I don't know how much practical programming
> experience you have, but this reminds me to make a suggestion for anyone
> reading this email who is learning programming and doing a lot of reading...
> If someone has access to a computer, then my suggestion at this point is
> make sure that they are spending more time practicing programming than they
> are spending on reading.
> By reading books and doing problem sets only, and reasoning about
> programming in their head atop that, then someone might be able to
> understand programming theory as a mathematician might.  But if they want
> intuition and insight into how to build and evolve sustainable systems in
> the real world, then I'm not aware of any substitute for practical
> experience in programming.
> Also, when you're getting programming experience, my suggestion is *not*
> to do it as rote practice, like trying to master just the mechanics of
> playing a particular piece on a musical instrument.  Instead, I suggest
> doing programming as experiments in method, like a creative performer or an
> innovative composer, and pick up experience with the rote mechanics along
> the way.  You will wind up with mistakes, but you will learn from them, and
> you will also wind up with wins you would not have if you did not
> experiment.  Programming has a lot less material available to learn via
> books than, say, medicine does, and you can experiment without killing any
> patients (just delete the patient's file, quietly, and no one need know).
>  This is all hand-wavy, but I think it's a way to think about programming
> that results in a greater mental toolbox.  It beats treating programming
> like a clerical skill, or pretending that programming is understood by
> anyone better than it is.
> Neil V.
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