[racket] Where to learn advanced programming skills?

From: Ben Duan (yfefyf at gmail.com)
Date: Wed Jul 24 22:44:57 EDT 2013

Thank you all for your valuable suggestions. I will try to be social and
practice more.

Thanks again,

On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 1:29 AM, Joe Gilray <jgilray at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Ben,
> If you want to practice and need some fun problems to work on, I recommend
> going to projecteuler.net and solving problem #1.  Then read the forum to
> see how others solved it.  Solve problem #2... rinse and repeat.
> By the time you get to problem #60 you will have built a little toolbox of
> reusable functions (admittedly mostly in the number-theory area) and been
> exposed to many different ways to solve problems and many different
> programming languages.
> Regards,
> -joe
> On Sun, Jul 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM, Ben Duan <yfefyf at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Neil,
>> Thank you very much for your explanation of the terminologies and your
>> suggestions.
>> 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,
>> Ben
>> 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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>>   http://lists.racket-lang.org/users
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