Sunday, 11 April 2010

Book review: F# for Scientists

Our 2006 book F# for Scientists has received its ninth review on Amazon and, like all previous reviews, was given the maximum 5-star rating!

Andre M. Van Meulebrouck from California writes:

A hallmark of this book is conciseness. (The book itself is fairly small and thin; and nicely hardbound.)

This book is a gold mine of great information that could take years to fully digest!

While the book is titled as a scientific book, and it is that; it also has much more to offer. It should be of great interest to scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, financial programmers, and any programmers who want to write good code. It features a well balanced selection of topics including: algorithms, data structures, visualization, graphics, threading, performance, and optimization. The use of DirectX is demonstrated. Some compilation techniques are also shown.

A nice selection of recursive list algorithms are presented that showcase the kind of problem solving that can be done purely with recursion and list processing. These are classic idioms that are good to be exposed to; like power set, and substitution with replacement.

Many of the examples are very much in the spirit of the Scheme Revised Reports, wherein the most gutted possible examples are used to demonstrate a given primitive or concept. Nothing extraneous to cause distractions.

There is a complement to this book called "F# for Technical Computing" that can be purchased from Flying Frog Consultancy. The complementary book adds nicely to the material in "F# for Scientists"; with discussions on such topics as parallel computing and WPF. In addition, the complementary book features longer page sizes, a stay flat (music book style) binding, and color; all of which I really like. (I wish more technical books made use of color because code is much easier to read when you see comments in one color, keywords in another, etc..)

Both books are gems. There are also counterparts to these books for OCaml programmers.

Relevant software can also be obtained from the Flying Frog Consultancy (which has, as part of its logo: "Putting the fun in functional since 2005").


Richard Minerich said...

Is a version of F# for Scientists coming with updates for the changes to the language and libraries?

Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd. said...

@Richard: Excellent question. F# for Scientists was written under contract with Microsoft in 2007 against Visual Studio 2005. Wiley have expressed an interest in publishing a second edition of F# for Scientists to bring it up to date not only with respect to Visual F# 2010 and .NET 4 but also Office 2010, SQL Server 2008, Mathematica 7 and MATLAB 8. We approached Microsoft last week with a proposal to update F# for Scientists and are awaiting a response.

Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd. said...

PS: I should add that F# for Scientists was completed by us in February 2007 but didn't hit bookstores until September 2008, 1.5 years later (!), by which time it was already out of date. The only way to get the highest quality F# content delivered on-time is directly from us.

Richard Minerich said...

So, the versions direct from you are updated?

Richard Minerich said...

I keep hearing that F# for Scientists is very good but I know the language has changed quite a lot. It's hard to tell when the last update took place from the information provided on the book pages.

Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd. said...

@Richard: The book we publish, Visual F# 2010 for Technical Computing, is completely up to date. The book Wiley published, F# for Scientists, is now very out of date.

Richard Minerich said...

Thanks, I'll pick up a copy of Technical Computing soon.