Here is the latest Caml Weekly News, for the week of February 26 to March 04, 2008.
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/5bd8dd39dd6d3dd2/915fcc21c794c10b#915fcc21c794c10bFabrice Marchant asked and Richard Jones answered:
> I bet this kind of code should be rather common : > let string_of_piece_type = function > King -> "King" > | Queen -> "Queen" > | Rook -> "Rook" > | Bishop -> "Bishop" > | Knight -> "Knight" > | Pawn -> "Pawn" > Please have you got an example where the macro helps to implement such > kind of "string_of_type" function ? You probably want to look at deriving (http://code.google.com/p/deriving/) or tywith (http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/shifting_focus/tywith) which can generate these functions automatically.
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/2b4a8a9fbc70adf5/87bcf0f0a12968d3#87bcf0f0a12968d3Dario Teixeira asked:
Suppose I have a value of type Story.t, fairly complex in its definition. I wish to store this value in a DB (like Postgresql) for posterity. At the moment, I am storing in the DB the marshalled representation of the data; whenever I need to use it again in the Ocaml programme I simply fetch it from the DB and unmarshal it. This works fine; there is however one nagging problem: the marshalled representation is brittle. If Story.t changes even slightly, I will no longer be able to retrieve values marshalled with the old version. Note that changes to Story.t are likely to be small and will not invalidate backwards compatibility (e.g., here or there another variant might be added, but not removed or renamed). I am therefore looking for an alternative to marshalling that a) does not suffer from the brittleness problem, and b) is fast. At the moment, the best thing that occurs to me is to convert the data into XML and to store it as such in the DB (the data is easily converted into XML). This strikes me as problem bound to be common. How do you guys typically solve this sort of situation? In addition, if the XML route is indeed the best one, what Ocaml tools would you recommend? (Again, this is for an application where speed is of the essence).David MENTRE suggested:
I asked a similar question once. One of the answer was to use Sexplib, to store your values as Lisp S-exp: http://www.ocaml.info/home/ocaml_sources.html#toc11 You could also use Config_file: http://home.gna.org/cameleon/configfile.en.htmlBasile STARYNKEVITCH also answered:
It is even theoretically a very difficult problem. There have been some publications by Cristal, Moscova, Gallium people at INRIA. Assuming you have no abstract types, no objects, and no closures, and no polymorphisms i.e. that there is a *.ml source file containing all the type definitions. Then the types are composed by base types (int, string, ...), sums, records, and perhaps arrays. Then you could consider what are the deltas on the type definition. In a sum like type sumt = A of t1 | B of t2 | C you might consider what happens when you remove let say B, or add let's say a choice | D of t3 In a record, consider likewise what happens when adding or removing a field. Etc.... The details are very complex (at least to me, who tried unsucessfully to work on this during my year at INRIA). Maybe a semi-hand-crafted generator could help. Adding polymorphisms, closures, objects, abstract types is a big mess. Good luck to you. Try to publish something.Martin Jambon then replied, and Jake Donham added:
> if we restrict the transition to a certain subset of operations, it can be > possible to define a mapping using some Camlp4 tool such as Deriving > (well, that's what I was told, assuming I interpreted correctly). > For instance: > - adding a record field: a default value is injected > - removing a record field: just remove it > - adding a variant: do nothing since it doesn't exist in the old data > - changing a type arbitrarily (such as changing a type foo1 into foo2 > everywhere): provide a map function that would override the default map > function for such nodes. > - functional and abstract values: left as-is We do this at Skydeck. We modified Deriving's Typeable module to expose the structure of types, and we marshal values along with a version number (for upgrades) and a type description from Typeable (so you get an error if you change the type and forget to change the version number). Our modified Typeable also has reflection functions so if you have a dynamic (a value along with a Typeable.TypeRep) you can examine its parts dynamically (implemented with Obj.magic). On top of that we have a generic function for changing a value of one type into a value of another, as Martin describes--we try to do the translation automatically as far as we can, and provide a way to pass in mapping functions for particular types. For the most part this works well. Compared to a SQL database it is very nice to have the OCaml type system for data representation. The upgrade mechanism is much safer than hand-coding SQL schema upgrades. On the other hand, there are many things you get for free with a SQL db that you have to do yourself: e.g. putting IDs on objects so you can refer to them externally, easy hand-inspection of the data (it's annoying navigating big structures in the top-level), to name a couple of small ones.Later in the thread, Berke Durak said:
I had exactly those kinds of issues during my work at the EDOS project. We were basically treating the metadata for every dat of every component of every architecture of every Debian distribution. I started using SQL. I first tried MySQL then PostgreSQL. Fill performance was bad. (And didn't get fast enough when Jaap added prepared statements for postgresql). Query performance was worse, because we were interested in things like the transitive dependency closure, and SQL is well-known to not be suitable for such transitive properties. Maybe I should have tried Sqlite but I didn't know it at the time. I then switched to marshalling. Boy, that was fast! Of course I got bitten very hard by segmentation faults... sorry, Xavier, for bothering you about such stupidity. And yes, I had a version number in my datastructures but, no, it was not automatically updated. Also, adding a field was really, really painful. Marshalling could work when your data structures are stable, but during development, it is painful, especially if you can't use a toy data set for development. I then built an I/O combinator library. Of course, combinators already exist for defining parsers and printers, but I thought that it would be great to combine them both. (Such an idea has been presented at POPL under the term of "picklers" if I recall correctly.) Basically you describe your types using "literates" which can then be used for reading and writing, as in type my_litterate = io_pair (io_list io_int) (io_hasthbl io_int io_string) Anyway, that led to the "IO" module available here http://caml.inria.fr/cgi-bin/hump.en.cgi?contrib=537 and a better version still lives in the EDOS codebase, which is now maintained by Jaap Boender. I think Jaap made a GODI package for it. IO can use multiple backends (binary, ASCII) and that was quite useful. Performance is reasonably good. One problem is with records and sum types - you have to give pattern-matching functions to define readers/writers for them. However, you can decide how you handle missing values or extra fields. Martin Jambon's JSON wheel could also be used here, but I'm waiting for the preprocessor situation to stabilize a little bit... One major drawback of IO is that it does not handle sharing or recursive structures. And I know of no efficient, type-safe way of handling those, especially if you don't want the serializer to add extra sharing (for instance if you have distinct mutable records with the same contents) I am still thinking about these problems. For instance, I have been recently working on Wikipedia revision history (only the Turkish (15 GB) and French ones (200 GB), the English one is too big). I needed maximal efficiency so I used Marshal, which was pretty fast. Of course I added a small version header. I noticed that when you Marshal a closure, the module puts a MD5 of presumably the whole program in the output (which costs some bytes but that's another problem.) It would be nice to have a mechanism for marshalling a value with an MD5 of its types, and unmarshalling only then the MD5 matches. In non-malicious environments, that is, in environments where no-one fakes MD5s, that would be quite safe. Of course it won't be possible to marshal polymorphic types. So, I'm asking the experts: is it possible to have a very small extension that would allow this? We could have the following restrictions and it still would be very useful: - the type t must be defined in a module M, which must live in a separate compilation unit (i.e. have an available cmi) - the type t must be ground - the type t must be named in an interface - it must be explicitly named when marshalling/unmarshalling - this is an ugly hack that only works in Marshal Something along the lines of : safer_output_to_channel stdout (z : Interface.t)  Trying safer_output_to_channel stdout z  Would yield safer_output_to_channel stdout z  ^ Error: value must be explicitly annotated with a type safer_output_to_channel stdout (33 : int)  Error: Type needs to be defined in an external interface to be Marshallable. safer_output_to_channel stdout (bar : Foo.t)  Error: Module Foo.t has no interface safer_output_to_channel stdout (bar : int Foo.t)  Error: Type Foo.t is not groundBrian Hurt said and Dario Teixeira answered:
> You're making two mistakes. > Mistake #1: treating a database as a dumb object store. This is a really > popular idea right now- Hibernate does this, as does Ruby on Rails, and a > number of other ORM packages take this effective approach. On the other > hand, dynamically typed languages are also really popular. Thanks for your reply. It was quite interesting, though I get the feeling you used my question solely as a trigger to share with us a long-held dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs concerning the use of databases, regardless of whether it actually applies to my particular problem. That's fair, and I do agree with practically all your points. However, if I were you I would refrain from starting such missives with statements as blunt and uncompromising as "You're making two mistakes". As it turns out, this is one of those cases where the data (tree-like, with recursive structures) does not map well at all with a relational database. Moreover, I am far from treating the database as a dumb object storage. In fact, a significant portion of the code for this particular application (a web app using Ocsigen; you can download a preliminary version of the app from http://dario.dse.nl/projects/lambdium-light/) lies on the Postgresql side, with the Ocaml code serving as little more than delivery boy. The exception is of course those portions where it is far more natural and performant to let the Ocaml code take the reins and treat the DB as dumb storage. The complex data structure holding the markup of stories/comments is one such example. > So, mistake number one: either use the data, and structure your data (at > that layer) to take advantage of it, or don't use a database. Unfortunately, this is an overly general statement. I have no doubt that if I were to present you the data I have, your reply would be "in this case, just use the DB as dumb storage". > Mistake number two: file formats (and this includes marshalled data > structures), are wire protocols, and need to be designed to be as abstract > as possible- to reveal as little about the internal structure of the > program as possible (preferrably none at all). On the other hand, one of the advantages of using a language with such a rich type-system as Ocaml's, is that the application-independent description of the data can be translated on practically a 1:1 basis to native language constructs! Trust me, I didn't need to bend the data definition to suit the internal structure of the programme.
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/7a849b5d2b66fef8/31fad544bf2be58f#31fad544bf2be58fRalf Laemmel announced:
[One-liner version: please submit papers/workshop/tutorial proposals for GPCE 2008.] The conference on Generative Programming and Component Engineering (GPCE) had some functional programming input over the last few years. SML, Caml, OCaml, MetaOCaml expertise is relevant for GPCE. Think of aggressive optimization, modularization, and staged computation, for example. Also, general advanced programming language folks probably hang out on this list (as is the case on the more lazy Haskell list -- better known to me). This year's GPCE conference again co-locates with OOPSLA. We are looking for strong proposals for workshops and tutorials that complement the GPCE technical programme, and thereby also contribute to the combined GPCE/OOPSLA programme. It will be great to get a submission or two from the SML, Caml, OCaml, MetaOCaml community. Please have a look at the call for proposals, at the list of topics, and at the history of the GPCE conference series. I specifically encourage you to reach out for the crowd at GPCE/OOPSLA. http://www.hope.cs.rice.edu/twiki/bin/view/GPCE08/ http://www.hope.cs.rice.edu/twiki/bin/view/GPCE08/CallForWorkshops http://www.hope.cs.rice.edu/twiki/bin/view/GPCE08/CallForTutorials [Deadline: 20th March] Regards, Ralf Laemmel Satellite Chair GPCE 2008 Eager type-level programmer PS: The paper deadline for GPCE is in May.
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/f69c8c92e3695499/d873d5f21a391db5#d873d5f21a391db5Damien Doligez announced:
It is our pleasure to announce the release of OCaml version 3.10.2. This is mainly a bug-fix release, see the list of changes below. It will be available here shortly: http://caml.inria.fr/download.en.html If you're in a real hurry, you can get the source now from ftp://ftp.inria.fr/INRIA/caml-light/ocaml-3.10/ Happy hacking, -- Damien Doligez for the OCaml team. Objective Caml 3.10.2: ---------------------- Bug fixes: - PR#1217 (partial) Typo in ocamldep man page - PR#3952 (partial) ocamlopt: allocation problems on ARM - PR#4339 (continued) ocamlopt: problems on HPPA - PR#4455 str.mli not installed under Windows - PR#4473 crash when accessing float array with polymorphic method - PR#4480 runtime would not compile without gcc extensions - PR#4481 wrong typing of exceptions with object arguments - PR#4490 typo in error message - Random crash on 32-bit when major_heap_increment >= 2^22 - Big performance bug in Weak hashtables - Small bugs in the make-package-macosx script - Bug in typing of polymorphic variants (reported on caml-list)
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/30328201fab81d25/3285bf354d1d1188#3285bf354d1d1188David MENTRE asked:
I discovered the some OCaml bytecodes were silently corrupted in Ubuntu Hardy (and Gutsy). The source of corruption, the package pkg-create-dbgsym, is now fixed in current Hardy. The package ocamlnet which was corrupted has been properly rebuilt and now works. However, other packages might also be corrupted. Right now, I have identified the following packages: * cameleon * dag2html * ocsigen * omake (not sure) * polygen-data (not sure) A rebuilt has been asked here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/pkg-create-dbgsym/+bug/197293 But I might have skipt some of the corrupted packages (I don't know the expected behavior of all packages). So, if you have access to Ubuntu Hardy, could you test your favorite OCaml package and report any issue to me or at the above Ubuntu bug. Yours, d. Footnotes:  https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ocamlnet/+bug/180364
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/1173790aef3a3292/1439e5ad28f8d174#1439e5ad28f8d174Xavier Clerc announced:
This post announces the beta release of the OCaml-Java project. The goal of the OCaml-Java project is to allow seamless integration of OCaml and Java. Home page: http://ocamljava.x9c.fr This version features a new binary distribution that is packed with all you need to run OCaml programs on a JVM. This distribution does not even need the standard Objective Caml distribution to be installed on your computer. URL: http://ocamljava.x9c.fr/downloads.html All the subprojects of OCaml-Java have of course been updated. A detailed changelog from the initial alpha release to the new beta release follows. Barista subproject: - minor API changes - minor grammar changes - Java API Cadmium subproject: - scripting support - XML support - file hooks / embedded mode - toplevel enhancements - fr.x9c.cadmium.support.values for easy encoding of OCaml values - SPI support Cafesterol subproject: - scripting support - standalone linking mode - servlet support Nickel subproject: - support for 'meta' tags OCamlScripting subproject: - standalone versionRichard Jones said:
I should add that there's a Fedora tracking bug for ocamljava where (if you have Fedora or Red Hat Enterprise Linux) you can play with the previous alpha version: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=434560 I was working on the beta version today but didn't quite get it going. When I do it'll appear in the above tracking bug.Adrien said and Xavier Clerc replied:
Now about ocamljava, ocaml.jar immediately exits with "unable to locate ocaml toplevel". I thought it did not need ocaml(.out). Also, ocamljava.jar has another problem : java -jar bin\ocamljava.jar Fatal error: exception Sys_error("/usr/local/share/camomile/database/general_cat egory.mar: java.io.IOException: file does not exist: .\usr\local\share\camomile\ database\general_category.mar") Well, I have to admit that I made some errors while crafting the binary package. I just fixed them and uploaded a new version (check out http://ocamljava.x9c.fr/downloads.html).. You should now be able to use the various tools. Here is a short test session assuming you have a "source.ml" file (typical content: <<let () = List.iter print_endline ["hello ..."; "... world"]>>): Execution of toplevel: java -jar ocaml.jar Compilation to OCaml bytecode: java -jar ocamlc.jar -o bc source.ml Execution of produced btyecode: java -jar ocamlrun.jar bc Compilation to Java jar file: java -jar ocamljava.jar -standalone -o prog.jar source.ml Execution of produced jar file: java -jar prog.jar However, I noticed a bug with the binary package that does not show up if you have the standard OCaml distribution installed on your computer: the ocamlc.jar/ocamljava.jar compilers will fail if the current directory contains the by-product of a previous compilation (e.g. cmo or cmi files). The temporary workaround is to delete these files before any compilation. I suspect this bug has something to do with the embedded mode (the ability for the Java-run programs to look for files inside their jar files rather than on the local file system). I will hunt this bug and report to the list when it is fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience in the meanwhile.
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/32ebb3c42bbee0ba/f3146e8ef8187b7f#f3146e8ef8187b7fHezekiah M. Carty announced:
I would like to announce an update to my PLplot  library bindings for OCaml. The code can be downloaded from: http://code.google.com/p/ocaml-plplot/ The main changes for this release are: - Works now with camlidl from Debian and other non-GODI installs. The previous release had problems on non-GODI OCaml installations. - More or less complete coverage of PLplot 5.8.0 functions. If anything is missing or needed, please let me know. - The version number has changed to match the corresponding PLplot version Requirements: - OCaml (tested with 3.10.0, should work on older versions?) - PLplot version 5.7.x or 5.8.x - tested with 5.7.3 through 5.8.0 - camlidl - findlib The license is the same as PLplot (LGPLv2+). This code has been developed and tested on Debian Sid and CentOS 5, using both GODI and Debian OCaml packages. I would be happy to hear about any successes or failures on other systems. There are currently two examples included , which corresponds to examples 11 and 19 on the PLplot website . The PLplot documentation  is a good reference as this binding is very close to the C library. There is some documentation available on the ocaml-plplot Google Code wiki as well. Please feel free to ask if you have any questions, problems or requests. Enjoy!  - http://plplot.sourceforge.net/  - http://code.google.com/p/ocaml-plplot/source/browse/trunk/examples/x11.ml and http://code.google.com/p/ocaml-plplot/source/browse/trunk/examples/x19.ml  - http://plplot.sourceforge.net/docbook-manual/
Archive: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.caml/browse_frm/thread/788ee2e7d384d2d5/d0574a96b5774671#d0574a96b5774671Koen Claessen and John Hughes announced:
** please forward this to interested students ** PhD Positions in Functional Programming at the department of Computer Science and Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden http://www.cs.chalmers.se/~koen/phdad.html Application deadline: March 11, 2008 Position starts: April 1, 2008 or September 1, 2008 The PhD student will join the research activities at our department in applications of functional programming, much of which concentrates on the design and application of Domain Specific Embedded Languages. Examples of our work are QuickCheck for specification-guided random testing, and Lava for hardware design and verification. Our group has also developed the award winning automated first-order logic reasoning tools Paradox and Equinox, which are both written in Haskell. There are advertised positions in two focus areas: 1. Development of the next generation of Paradox and Equinox, which involves inventing new programming techniques for building a modular, flexible automated reasoning tool, as well as developing novel automated reasoning algorithms. As new exciting applications for automated reasoning tools arise, new demands are placed on the reasoning tools, forcing changes in how they are designed and implemented. 2. Development of verification techniques for distributed systems implemented in the functional programming language Erlang. Methods here include QuickCheck-based testing, model checking and (automated) theorem proving techniques, and integration of these different techniques. There is a possibility of attacking real-world problems from our industrial partners. For more information, please look at: http://www.cs.chalmers.se/~koen/phdad.html
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