Hi, I'm Noel

I blog here about data, programming, and business.

Teaching Scala

10 March 2014

At the beginning of this year I started rewriting our Scala training material. Like many introductory programming courses ours was structured around language features. This is the most straightforward way to write a tutorial but, particularly in a language like Scala, this structure doesn’t work well at all. It’s easy to overwhelm the student with details, like the specifics of operator precedence and associativity, that have almost no practical significance for day-to-day programming. All this noise makes it very difficult for the student to pick out the important concepts about how to structure programs written in Scala.

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Choosing Goals for A/B Testing

31 January 2014

One of the most important decisions when designing an A/B test is choosing the goal of the test. After all, if you don’t have the right goal the results of the test won’t be of any use. It is particularly important when using Myna as Myna dynamically changes the proportion in which variants as displayed to maximise the goal.

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Unboxed Tagged Angst

29 January 2014

Type class based serialization is now standard in Scala JSON libaries such as Play JSON. All our web applications these days are designed as JSON APIs, with the UI being just an API client. We usually find we want a few different serialization formats. Here are two examples that came up recently: logged-in users can see more information than anonymous users; and, as we’re using Mongo, we want a serialization format for the database that includes more information than other clients can see. Thus we need to control which type class is used for serialization at each point.

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The Computer: From Servant to Assistant

30 December 2013

How will machine learning change how we interact with computers? This a question I attempted to answer at the inaugural CW Future Tech meeting. The talk was given th Pecha Kucha style, so the slides don’t stand up well on their own. Let me sketch the argument here.

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Scalaz Monad Transformers

20 December 2013

Do you like monads? Do you like monads in your monads? If so, you'll love monad transformers. If you like monads in your monads, you like Scala, and you want to learn more about monad transformers then read on …

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