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Archive for the ‘Read’ category

Natural Language Processing Techniques in Prolog

July 10th, 2009

Currently reading: Natural Language Processing Techniques in Prolog, by Patrick Blackburn and Kristina Striegnitz. A course in (many) parser algorithms with implementations in Prolog.

On Lisp

July 9th, 2009

Currently reading: On Lisp by Paul Graham, also available online as HTML at Shame on me for never having written any lisp (except for some basic Autocad scripts at the university) despite my interest in AI matters.

This book explains in great depth not how to write Lisp code (in fact, it assumes basic knowledge of the language), but rather the Lisp approach to programming, and what distinguishes it from other languages. The tone is often amusingly defensive, and the author hardly ever misses an opportunity  to show the superiority of its pet language in comparison to others. Despite the subjectivity, it’s an enlightening read. Approaches to programming that are usually taken for granted are reversed: bottom-up instead of top-down, iterative construction instead of planning, functional instead of OO (although the latter is becoming popular again ). Some advanced and hard-to-implement-in-other-languages concepts like continuations and non-deterministic algorithms (illustrated with a parser and a prolog implementation) are treated.

The code examples are mainly in Common Lisp. After reading a great part of this book, I feel I still dislike the parentheses jungle and the overall look of Lisp code (and emacs !), but the concepts are very refreshing (despite Lisp’s venerable age!) and merit to be kept in mind. Hmmm. Javascript.

The Art of Unix Programming

July 3rd, 2009

Currently reading: the online version of the Art of Unix Programming by Eric S. Raymond, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons license.  Not only interesting to programmers, there is a lot about unix philosophy, hacker culture and history. The many anecdotes and non-Unix OS bashing make it an entertaining read. The design principles mentioned here, and elevated to an art, are more or less the ones that I adhere to. Long live the CLI.

Natural Language Parsers, A course in Cooking

June 29th, 2009

Currently reading: Natural Language Parsers, “A course in Cooking” by Peter Hellwig. A very neat paper because it presents several parser algorithms, and instead of doing the usual academic abstract mathy things one expects to find in a paper about parsers, he shares practical information about the working of the algorithms, gives some information on how to choose the right one, and provides example parses. The focus is NLP, but probably a good read for anyone wanting to implement a parser.