jameson is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Christoph Reichenbach
Member since: 2000-07-25 14:40:28
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Homepage: http://www.teksolv.de/~jameson/


I'm a graduate CS student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, thanks to an exchange program with the Technical University at Darmstadt, Germany. Apart from that, I'm the FreeSCI maintainer, a Debian/PPC and /Alpha user, and one of the people who think that functional and logic programming languages are pretty neat ideas.

And, in case you're wondering, I'm well aware of not being qualified to be ranked as a 'Master' (according to the certification guidelines).


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Semester's over, all finals written, all papers submitted. Finally, Freedom! I'll go back to Germany over Christmas, to morally prepare for my upcoming Thesis work.

Finally got the book commonly cited as GLT89: Girard's Proofs and Types. I've only had a look at the first two chapters so far, but this seems like a good read. Couple of other interesting things to read, too, of course; maybe I'll finally have the time to figure out what exactly inverse co-limits are, what the precise definition of cartesian-closed categories is, and why coherence spaces can describe stable functions even though they supposedly don't form this kind of category.

The project at CU Boulder has officially concluded; our final paper (a very informal, light technical read) is available from the web page. In essence, it worked out quite well. People interested in the technical background behind FreeSCI's new glutton branch should definitely have a look, but I'm not sure if there are any here (still, just in case...)

24 Nov 2002 (updated 25 Nov 2002 at 01:09 UTC) »
The glutton branch (SCI01,SCI1 etc. support) seems to be coming along nicely, meaning that we may have some parts of Quest for Glory 2 playable in the near future. I guess it's time to start worrying about handling palette effects now-- they're already present in QfG2 (EGA-- using a 16 color palette selectable per-image, this was discovered by Lars Skovlund), but they're likely to become more relevant wrt performance in the VGA games (back in the days of color index modes, those were a great way to get certain kinds of simple animations cheaply).

Using per-image palettes sounds like a great way to re-use graphics-- consider, for example, an RPG allowing you to configure hair color, eye color, and complexion. Of all the (graphical) RPGs I've seen, only Ultima Online seems to take advantage of that (although I'd expect other online-RPGs to do the same).

Programming languages
I've been wondering about this for quite a while: It seems reasonable to be concerned about type systems restricting both the expressivity and the effectiveness of programming languages-- after all, the security checks they offer do restrict what you can express, in a way. However, given a statically checked typesystem with (bounded) polymorphic parametrism (offered by safe languages such as Haskell and Modula-3, as well as by mostly-safe languages like Eiffel and the upcoming Java-with-Generics) and ad-hoc polymorphism (aka subtyping-- present in all "object-oriented" languages) (I'm not sure if the latter is all that useful if you have the former already, BTW), are there any practically useful constructs that are particularly cumbersome to express? (You can always express all of them by defining an unsafe interpreter on top of your language, of course, but I'd consider that to be a good example of a cumbersome solution ;-) I can't really think of any, but that may be just because I'm too used to thinking within the restrictions imposed by these type systems (I found it similarly hard to understand parametric types at first, until I used them for a little while and then stumbled across an... opportunity to experienced what container classes (textbook example for using type parameters) look like in languages that only do ad-hoc polymorphism).

So, any ideas?

Types, Proofs, and Books
So the CU library doesn't have Girard's "Proofs and Types" (which is probably what chalst was referring to), it's out of print, and it's not exactly the kind of book you're likely to find in a used-book store. As a relative novice in this area, I'll have to look for a different starting place-- the CiteSeer is unlikely to spit out entire books. Reading papers and articles is certainly helpful, but I'd prefer some solid foundations, in order not to miss out the "well-known fundamentals that hardly deserve mentioning". Any suggestions?

19 Oct 2002 (updated 19 Oct 2002 at 04:00 UTC) »

Studying in the US is... different from Germany. Then again, part of what confuses me could be a particular property of this university; I haven't had classes that lasted only 50 minutes but were scheduled three times a week since, well, the rough equivalent to high school (although, from what I've been told, high school doesn't quite cover the German Oberstufe, but that's only slightly related).

In many ways it could be argued that the United States are weird. Then again, I'm pretty sure that many people from here think the same of Europe, so let's change that to 'different' (think "bread", "butter", "coffee", "washing machines" and "stoves"; then again, they do have things like peanut butter and bottomless cups, so there are upsides as well as downsides). Getting used to people running around with weapons and the government being entitled to kill people is a bit strange, too, but at least they have recycling, bike lanes and a working bus system here (which doesn't really make up for that strange feeling, as I'll admit, but turns out to be more relevant to everyday life).

I'm still not sure what I'll do next, though. There are a couple of Ph.D. positions open here, and students from Darmstadt are rumored to have a pretty good chance at getting them. There are also one or two places I could go to back at home to do a similar program-- although what I'd really like to do would be to go to Edinburgh (to the semantics department), but I guess my chances there would be too close to zero to even deserve logarithmizing. Still, one can try...

pizza did some more work on the sound system recently; unfortunately, my laptop doesn't really do much in the way of sound (except for beeping... hmm... is there an ALSA driver for the PC beeper or something like that?), so I cannot comment on how much the situation has improved.
Meanwhile, I got two projects approved at university-- one to document and bugfix the FreeSCI parser, and one to get extended VM support up and running, for SCI01/SCI1/SCI1.1 and perhaps even SCI32 support (thanks to Prof. Gary Nutt). This should be fun-- working on my favorite FS project and getting graded for it...

People have argued that the academic world is a major contributor to the Free Software world, which I believe there is little doubt about. It's good to experience this first-hand.

Sister's 40th birthday today, and I can't be there (one ocean away). I guess I'll miss a lot of birthdays while I'm here, though.

Programming Languages
A course in programming languages reminded me of how horrible the favorite languages of choice of our oh-so-advanced Free Software community are. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that C, Perl, Python, and perhaps also C++ (and, to a lesser extent, Java) are the most popular picks out there; I've recommended some of them in the past and have come to the conclusion that the quality of these recommendations is debatable.

Sure, it can be (reasonably) argued that the size of the set of modules/libraries/classes available for a particular language (and the maturity of its elements) gives some indication regarding its practical usefulness, but ignoring key weaknesses in a language (such as a lack of type parameters aka parametric polymorphism (which is closely related to "generics" and "templates), static typing, limitation of side effects ("pure" programming style), data hiding or modularity) means that, even though lots of libraries may be available, they may be of poor inherent quality-- a great example for this is Java's lack of type parameters, which means that using container classes requires typecasts (most of the languages given above don't even have static typechecking), or the limited amount of optimizations possible in impure programming languages (since side effects can rarely be estimated in their entirety). Now I'm well aware that many of these things are difficult problems, and that (which is probably a much worse problem) UNIX and Linux are based around C, a C core set of libraries, a C-style dynamic linking mechanism etc., requiring other languages either to scale down (and thus raise the question of whether they do anything but add overhead in the first place) or to re-implement major parts of the library (which people will, in general, be even less enthusiastic about, since it would add even more overhead, unless these other people stop using C programs, which won't happen).

I guess the only alternative would be to make C the language using the wrappers. Although it would be preferrable to have a decent language to build on top of first...

Sorry for the rant, but maybe someone will consider this to be interesting in some way.

Have been certified as a Master. While I'll admit that I'm flattered, I have to point out that this rating is silly (please refer to the certification guidelines-- No matter how much I'd like to, I do not work full-time on Free Software; the other points are more vague but don't apply to me in general, either).

On an unrelated note, I'm now in the lucky position of participating in an exchange program with the University of Colorado at Boulder. I won't go into detail about the various "accidents" and "voluntary cancellations of applications" that occured to the other applicants here...

So I'll be spending 8 months in the US of A now, starting in mid-August. I've been told that I might have to pay an additional $275 in order to allow the university to monitor my movements more precisely (as if this would be of any relevance to my plans for World Domination), thanks to some weird new law.
Suffice it to say that observing the US from within is probably going to be a major change of perspective...

Anyway, is anyone from UCB an (active) Advogato member?

Very little in the way of news, unfortunately, except for some bug fixes, cleanups, Adlib emulation, and the beginnings of a Dreamcast port.

Hey, looks like someone's actually reading my diary entries ;-)

Still closer to the release. IMHO, the UNIX part is done now (thanks to the remains of the Compaq TestDrive compile farm, I could test this one on a few new setups this time. 'Test' as in 'compile and run ./freesci -h', because they don't have X11 forwarding. Oh well.). However, support for Win32 seems to be broken; since I don't have the equipment to test or the knowledge to work on that, the release will have to wait for the Win32 porters.

Meanwhile, anyone sufficiently bored to try what is likely to already be 0.3.3 as far as non-Win32 is concerned can try this here.

cactus: Glad you like it! I can't seem to reproduce the problems you're having here (FreeSCI halting for a short while and CPU usage increasing dramatically) and haven't received any similar bug reports yet, but this sounds interesting (at least from the point of view of someone who's been fixing collision bugs for the last week). I'll contact you per e-mail, since advogato probably isn't the best medium to use for bug hunting...

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