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Papers and essays that every programmer should be aware of (projectmona.com)
219 points by sbspalding 1428 days ago | hide | past | web | 50 comments | favorite

These are the most presumptive headlines. Programmer encapsulates many disciplines just as a writer encapsulates those who write comics, novels, plays, ads, articles, law and speeches. Stop assuming everyone is a web developer. And don't deign to tell programmers what they should know.

+1. Expected a serious list, instead I saw stupid Ruby/JS/HTML garbage. And no, I do not need to know "100 Vim Commands" - because Visual Studio is "100" times better.

Here is the real list:

1) know one modern web tech; 2) know one OOP language; 3) know one functional language; 4) be familiar with one dynamic language; 5) remember where to look up theoretic bits like algorithms.

I disagree on 5). You should probably be at a bare minimum familiar with different types of data structures and how they work. Knowing where to look up "theoretic bits" isn't actually useful. As a programmer, you should know when a dictionary might sace you time, just as one scratch of the surface example.

This pops up from time to time on stackoverflow as well:

[1]: Favourite programming related academic papers

[2]: Influential books every programmer should read

[3]: Favourite (or most brilliant) Algorithms

[1]: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/358033/what-are-your-favo...

[2]: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1711/what-is-the-single-m...

[3]: http://cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/189/algorithms-f...

Somebody should post a "list of the top 10 lists that every programmer should read" which is a listing of article listings.

I hope you are not joking! Lists are serious business on the internet!


> Note that this list is itself a list of lists, and thus in theory satisfies the normal criterion for inclusion here; however, it has not been included, since the purpose of the article is to serve as a directory to other lists of lists.

... Gödelgasm.


Looking at the Talk page, it's surprising to me that the page isn't self referential. How can't it be?

Sets are even seriouser business.

Very accurate title. About 40 links, some you really should read, and some you maybe be aware of...

this also, re fogus' blog



I find it funny that there's a paper on constructive type theory and a CSS3 cheat sheet on the same list.

Hands up: who had heard of "docking" in the sense of http://x86.cs.duke.edu/~brd/Teaching/Bio/asmb/current/Papers...? For me, that didn't even come from the same ballpark. And that is after I accepted that CSS cheat sheets and type theory were in the same ballpark.

Yeah, that confused the crap out of me. I opened the paper and started reading the abstract, and was still confused. Took a lot of flipping through it to realize that it has something to do with molecular bonds and protein folding, maybe. :)

I did, but I studied bioinformatics... ;-)

We functional programmers have to pay the bills somehow, you know.

I don't know why "what every computer scientist should know about floating-point arithmetic" is not in here. Ruby or the last framework are just fads, but IEEE754 is here to stay and nobody know how to use it (and I never remember the details myself, I'm always struggling).

I like to tell IEEE754 as an improvised story, because it's so rich in history as far as data types go.

They were first introduced in 1941 on the German made Z3 compuer. Whic means, yup, we can blame nazis for 0.1+0.2 == 0.30000000000000004

In all seriousness, more programmers need to understand this. I've seen more than a few beginners go rant about how awesome their language X is when contrast against language Y because language Y has bugs like 0.1+0.2 ... then they're blown away when the see their language too has the same "bug".

Scheme programmers don't have that problem, because Scheme is one of the few languages that does math in a sane manner. The whole inexact-by-default behavior of most languages with literals expressed as decimals is somewhat nutty.

For all the flexibility provided by Scheme's structure (shared with other lisps), the thing I wish more languages would borrow from scheme is the numerical tower, which doesn't need Lispish syntax or any of the other features of Scheme that most people object to.

I think it's a bit naïve, because transcendental number have no exact finite representation in any integral base. Having arbitrary precision helps only in some cases.

Having arbitrary precision helps in all the cases where you start with something given as an exact decimal, and perform only operations which produce exact decimal outputs from exact decimal inputs, which isn't a particularly small set of use cases. Scheme's approach of using exact representations unless either an inexact one is explicitly requested or an operation is used which produces a result which has no exact representation is correct in the broadest number of cases at the expense if requiring a tiny bit of extra effort to exchange accuracy for efficiency where that is desired.

This is, IMO, clearly the best approach for a general purpose language, and far superior to the large number of languages which lack even a convenient syntax for exact decimal literals.

I totally agree. Unless we decide to leave the field of rational numbers (with exponents, trigonometrics or nth roots), there's little reason not to keep the exact rational number around.

Fortunately Haskell does this too with Data.Ratio!

frankly I don't really understand it. I mean we do real geeky numerical computations only once in a while for a week, and then we spend a few months on CSS IE compatibility. I never remember what kind of computations break my numbers in what ways and how I know if I can safely use == or not in my case (and if I can't, how big the epsilon should be).

Oh, with == it is pretty simple: do not _ever_ use it on floating point data.

go read the paper.

Great resource, thanks. But oh man, typography, character sets, CSS3...you are going to have a lot of frustrated developers scrolling through this. :) Not many have a good handle on all three of those AND functional programming, and you know lots of people measure themselves against these lists...

Heh. But while it's silly to put too much into measuring yourself against arbitrary lists, reasonably good ones like this should at minimum be a guide to "Here be dragons". As in areas that are messy and/or otherwise complicated enough that you should make note so that you'll know to study them if needed in the future. Mixing metaphors while still staying reptilian, so that you don't one day ask yourself "Why have I found myself in an alligator infested swamp?"

Every programmer should know Ruby and CSS3? What?

...if they want to be considered "cool" in F-cisco.

> F-cisco

Get off my lawn! Back in my day, us cool cats called it Sanfran.

An awful lot of Ruby ... does every programmer really need to know Ruby? I seem to be getting by.

Or Vim commands? That has nothing to do with programming.

The functional programming one is great. As a self-taught programmer who has mostly learned on the job, I've struggled with understanding functional programming (since I've never had the opportunity to use it for work), and that helped me along quite a bit.

A good collection overall..

Seems quite heavily weighted towards Web development but a good list either way. Thanks for sharing.

Several such lists have been submitted over the years, worth checking them all:


Am I the only one who had to google the "docking problem"? I've been programming for over 30 years, and not once have I had to model the quaternary structure of complexes formed by two or more interacting biological macromolecules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macromolecular_docking).

I will click on any article titled "<publications, tricks, advice> that <people in the software industry> should <grok, read, consume>"

Come on, no Pragmatic programmer? Well, it is a book, and it might contain a lot of "obvious" stuff. But I really recommend it.

Boy oh boy, I'll never be able to read everything that I want to. Ticking off one thing and 10 more are added.

I don't understand the XKCD. What's the joke?

There are people (myself included) who cannot remember how exactly to use tar, the Unix command. For me it always goes like this: "Is it 'tar -fzhf... ' or 'tar -vgsf...'? Ok, I'll google it again, just this one time, promise".

Don't you mean 'man tar'? The most common usage is right in the intro. I don't use it much but always have to do the same...

Doesn't 'tar xf' work for practically everything? I just checked and it works for lzma, bz2, and gz.

I don't think it used to? I remember needing to explicitly state tar -xjf for bz2 stuff. I do it now reflexively. If it's handled correctly by -xf, that's awesome!

Yes, it does, but only GNU tar. I was using NetBSD when I stumbled over the fact that it couldn't 'tar xvf' my foo.tar.gz.

OTOH, I always have to look up unzip, because I fear that there is some option that I forgot. Well, most of the time I use a GUI for Zip, since they often decompress all over the folder unlike tars which are mostly contained in one single folder.

Remember, a tar file need not be compressed. `tar xf' will certainly work fine on `foo.tar'.

I remember 3 tar incantations (to created a compressed archive, list, or uncompress one) that I treat pretty much as unchangeable commands. Probably should just alias them. Everything else I'll look up..

Great resource!

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