Haskell Picnic20 Jan 2013
PicnicMob is a Haskell tutorial for beginners. It is different from many other introductory tutorials as it has an interesting, non-trivial algorithm as the subject and it produces pictures at every step. Also you can't go wrong by reading something by Conrad Barski, author of Land of Lisp.
I worked through the tutorial when I was still at university. The picnic placement pictures I first generated are from 2009. I revisited the tutorial to read up on the simulated annealing algorithm that is used. Along the way I ported the code to Clojure and this code is on GitHub here. The Clojure code follows the Haskell code quite closely. As with the original tutorial the Clojure code is inefficient with its use of datastructures and its algorithmic complexity.
At the end of the tutorial is a final thought by Barski on similation of the physical world and how to represented or model this world. Barsky refers to interesting work in this area by Jeff Hawkins at a company called Numenta. A presentation by Jeff Hawkins about this work has been recorded at the 2012 Strange Loop conference and is available at InfoQ. With a title "Computing Like the Brain" there's no reason not to watch it. The presentation is a mix of interesting theory, an actual implementation and enthousiasm, that leaves me with the (unrealistic) desire to implement such software. A similarly exciting presentation is "Machine Learning Live" by Mike Anderson from the 2012 Clojure Conj about neural networks.