Last night we met at the lovely GFRHQ (thanks James and Chris!) for the London Computation Club meeting. We’ve reached the end of our read/code through The Little Schemer and met to decide what to read together next.
The meeting started with Tom Stuart showing us the wonderful website he’s built for our club:
He also pointed out that we have a Github organisation and Twitter account (linked to above). We talked a bit about the running of the club itself and agreed that it would be great if we all shared in the joy/burden of keeping the site up to date, doing write ups and so on. The code for the site itself is on Github along with some issues which you can help fix. It would be nice to move all of our write-ups on to the site itself and out of Google groups for example.
We then moved on to the meat of the meeting, where Jamie, Tom S and myself presented 5 ideas for books or projects to study. Those were, in order:
* The Elements of Computing Systems, http://www.nand2tetris.org/
AKA NAND2TETRIS, a novel approach to teaching “CS101” by building a complete computer, compiler and OS from the ground up. Tom noted that seattle.rb have been working through this book recently and using ruby to complete the programming projects in the second half of the book.
* Cryptography Engineering, https://www.schneier.com/book-ce.html
As recommended to Jamie from Ali Najaf of “Rails Security” fame, this is an approachable, not-too-maths-heavy course on applied cryptography.
* Types and Programming Languages, http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/tapl/
One of Tom’s favourite books, he described it as a project-based approach to building a programming language by gradually introducing more complicated type systems.
* To Mock a Mockingbird, http://www.amazon.co.uk/To-Mock-Mockingbird-Other-Puzzles/dp/0192801422
A puzzle book beloved by functional programmers, it’s an esoteric introduction to combinatory logic.
* Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conceptual-Mathematics-First-Introduction-Categories/dp/052171916X
A book Tom is currently working through on the mathematics of category theory. He’s testing his understanding of each topic by writing rspec examples (which he showed us), and suggested we could join in.
As we went through each proposal, we also came up with other ideas and books to read. These have been listed in another email. We talked a bit about the logistics of running a club around each idea, and then put the choices to a vote. The winner was NAND2TETRIS, so we’ve decided to go with that for our next club. I’ll send an email around with some details of that book for us to familiarise ourselves with before deciding when to next meet.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for some of the other books and ideas (notably the idea to work on a computational-type project as a group, and the Types and Programming Languages book, but I think all of the ideas had at least one vote), so we’ll capture those on the website, and maybe come back to them later!