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Showing posts from June, 2009

Currying in PHP

What happens if you don't have all the arguments handy for a function, but you want to give whatever arguments you do have now and then provide the rest of them to the function later? This is called currying, and is a core concept in functional programming. It's messy, but possible to curry functions in PHP now that closures have been added.

First, let me show you how currying looks in a functional language. Here's a basic example in OCaml/F#:
let do_math op x y =
match op with
'+' -> x + y
| '-' -> x – y
| _ -> failwith "Invalid op"

let add = do_math '+'

let inc = add 1
let dec = add (-1)
A function named do_math is defined that accepts an operator and two operands. The function's return value will be either the sum or difference of the operands, depending on whether the given operator is + or -. Notice how do_math is then called with a single argument. OCaml doesn't raise an error; it simply returns a function …

Kember Identity

Ever wonder if there is an MD5 hash the same as the original input? Nope, me neither. But Mr. Kember does and he's asking the world to help him find out if such a thing exists. There's no fame if you find it for him (he's humbly named it the "Kember Identity" already)—but you might make a little cash. Check out his web page for the details. Go ahead and enter his contest if you're feeling gullible lucky!

The MD5 algorithm returns a fixed-length 128-bit hash, so there are 2128 possible values. The hash is typically expressed as a series of 32 hexadecimal values. Since the input string and its hash must be the same to reflect the Kember Identity, you wouldn't need to test random strings like "ruby on rails rots your brain"; you only need to test strings that are 32-characters long and contain the numbers 0 though 9 and letters a through f like 8d112b3c68248c12f178188c1b921ec1.

Kember suggests testing values at random because the range of candid…

What's Wrong with OOP

Proponents of Object Oriented Programming feel the paradigm yields code that is better organized, easier to understand and maintain, and reusable. They view procedural programming code as unwieldy spaghetti and embrace OO-centric design patterns as the "right way" to do things. They argue objects are easier to grasp because they model how we view the world. If the popularity of languages like Java and C# is any indication, they may be right. But after almost 20 years of OOP in the mainstream, there's still a large portion of programmers who resist it. If objects truly model the way people think of things in the real world, then why do people have a hard time understanding and working in OOP?

I suspect the problem might be the focus on objects instead of actions. If I may quote from Steve Yegge's Execution in the Kingdom of Nouns:

Verbs in Javaland are responsible for all the work, but as they are held in contempt by all, no Verb is ever permitted to wander about freel…