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[Axiom-developer] Embedding Axiom (Hickey and fold/unfold) and Reifying

From: Tim Daly
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Embedding Axiom (Hickey and fold/unfold) and Reifying time
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:00:21 -0500
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20090302)

Martin Baker wrote:
On Friday 20 November 2009 23:17:25 Tim Daly wrote:
There is an excellent talk by Rich Hickey about modelling time, identity, values,
perception, state, memory, etc.


While I was watching this talk I was wondering about the difference between the mainstream computing issues verses mathematical computing issues.

I get the impression that the mainstream issue, from this talk, is about how to run multiple algorithms in parallel?

If we are trying to solve a set of equations, is there a natural parallelism ? For the reasons discussed in the talk, should a rule based method be preferred wherever possible and explicit coding of algorithms be discouraged?

Martin Baker

Reifying time...

All of that being said, I think that there is a lot to learn from Hickey. There is certainly a lot to be gained by writing in a functional programming style (which Axiom is not
using internally now).

I found his idea of reifying time interesting. Time, according to Hickey, is not a flow
but an ordering on a set so you cannot measure A-B but you can decide A<B.
I would use this "reify time" idea and combine it with locking primitives. The lock variable could be a timestamp. That would be unique and it would enable me to
know if A was changed before B. Access to the system clock could be made
unique so that no two timestamps can be equal unless they were performed by
the same process.

I really love his immutable data structures work. I am sorely tempted to rewrite some
of the internals to use these.

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