Notes on Programming Paradigms

Levels of Abstraction

  • Understand the motivation for different programming paradigms: to abstract machine operation into human understandable and composable programs
  • Understand the difference between syntax, the textual symbols and grammatical rules of a program, and semantics, the meaning of what is computed
  • Understand that there are different models of computation upon which different programming languages are based, including machine models such as Turing Machines and von Neumann architecture, and the Lambda Calculus based on mathematical functions.
  • Compare the dominant paradigms of Functional and Objected-Oriented Programming in terms of how they abstract data and behaviour.

Introduction to JavaScript

Functional JavaScript

Introduction to TypeScript

  • Create programs in TypeScript using types to ensure correctness at compile time.
  • Explain how TypeScript features like Interfaces, Union Types and Optional Properties allow us to model types in common JavaScript coding patterns with precision.
  • Explain how Generics allow us to create type safe but general and reusable code.
  • Compare and contrast strongly, dynamically and gradually typed languages.
  • Describe how compilers that support type inference assist us in writing type safe code.

Lazy Evaluation

  • Understand how functions can be used to delay evaluation of code until the result is actually required
  • Understand how this lazy evaluation allows for the definition of infinite sequences
  • Code and use lazily evaluated infinite number sequences

Functional Reactive Programming

  • Understand that the Functional Reactive Programming Observable construct is just another container of elements, but whose “push-based” architecture allows them to be used to capture asynchronous behaviour
  • Understand that Observables provide the benefits of functional programming: composability, reusability.
  • See that Observables structure complex stateful programs in a more linear and understandable way that maps more easily to the underlying state machine.
  • Use Observables to create simple UI programs in-place of asynchronous event handling.

Observable Asteroids

A fully worked example of FRP using rx.js Observables to create an in-browser version of a classic arcade game.

Combining Higher Order Functions

  • Understand that Higher-Order Functions are those which take other functions as input parameters or which return functions
  • Understand that curried functions support partial application and therefore creation of functions that are partially specified for reuse scenarios.
  • Understand that a Combinator is a higher-order function that uses only function application and earlier defined combinators to define a result from its arguments
  • Use simple Combinator functions to manipulate and compose other functions

Lambda Calculus

  • Understand that the lambda calculus provides a complete model of computation
  • Relate the lambda calculus to functional programming
  • Apply conversion and reduction rules to simplify lambda expressions

From JavaScript to Haskell (via PureScript)

  • Compare a lambda-calculus inspired Haskell-like language (PureScript) with the functional programming concepts explored earlier in JavaScript
  • Understand how tail call optimisation is applied in languages which support it

Creating and Running Haskell Programs

  • Use the GHCi REPL to test Haskell programs and expressions
  • Compare the syntax of Haskell programs to Functional-style code in JavaScript
  • Understand that by default Haskell uses a lazy evaluation strategy
  • Create and use Haskell lists and tuples
  • Create Haskell functions using pattern-matching, guards, and local definitions using where and let clauses

Data Types and Type Classes

  • Define data structures using Haskell’s Algebraic Data Types and use pattern matching to define functions that handle each of the possible instances
  • Use the alternate record syntax to define data structures with named fields
  • Understand that Haskell type classes are similar to TypeScript interfaces in providing a definition for the set of functions that must be available for instances of those type classes and that typeclasses can extend upon one another to create rich hierarchies
  • Understand that the Maybe type provides an elegant way to handle partial functions

Functor and Applicative

  • Understand how eta-conversion, operator sectioning and compose, together provide the ability to transform code to achieve a composable point free form and use this technique to refactor code.
  • Understand that in Haskell the ability to map over container structures is generalised into the Functor typeclass, such that any type that is an instance of Functor has the fmap or (<$>) operation.
  • Understand that the Applicative Typeclass extends Functor such that containers of functions may be applied (using the (<*>) operator) to containers of values.
  • Understand that Functor and Applicative allow powerful composable types through exploring a simple applicative functor for parsing.

Foldable and Traversible

  • Understand that the “reduce” function we met for arrays and other data structures in JavaScript is referred to as “folding” in Haskell and there are two variants foldl and foldr for left and right folds respectively
  • Understand that the Monoid typeclass for things that have a predefined rule for aggregation (concatenation), making containers of Monoid values trivial to fold
  • Understand that Foldable generalises containers that may be folded (or reduced) into values
  • Understand that Traversable generalises containers over which we can traverse applying a function with an Applicative effect


  • Understand that Monad extends Functor and Applicative to provide a bind (>>=) operation which allows us to sequence effectful operations such that their effects are flattened or joined into a single effect.
  • Understand the operation of the monadic bind and join functions in the Maybe, IO, List and Function instances of Monad.
  • Be able to refactor monadic binds using do notation.
  • Loop with Monadic effects.

Parser Combinators

  • Understand that a parser is a program which extracts information from a structured text file
  • Apply what we have learned about Haskell typeclasses and other functional programming concepts to create solutions to real-world problems
  • In particular, we learn to use Parser combinators and see how they are put together