Sunday, November 10, 2013

Course completed

As I wrote in previous posts I've been attending a course Functional Programming Principles in Scala on coursera. I've completed the course and will write my final thoughts of the course this time.

First weeks

The first three weeks was like a  boot camp to drop out everyone who's not fully commited to the course. I've written about the first weeks in a previous post so I'm not going to repeat myself.

Weeks four and five

Weeks four and five were a positive surprise in two different ways. First of all the subjects were much more interesting and practical than in previous weeks. The second nice surprise was that the homework for the two weeks was combined.

Week four was about pattern matching which is a essential part of Scala and I found it to be a very interesting concept, easy to understand and it can simplify the code.

Week five was about lists. Nothing shocking during the week as lists are similar to lists in Java but in Scala lists do have some operations that come from the world of functional programming that Java doesn't have. This week also introduced a new concept called tuples which is something I'd love to have also in other programming languages.

The last two weeks

Week six was about collections other than lists including maps, ranges, sets and vectors. This week also introduced Scala's for queries which can be very different looking than in OOP. The collections are very similar to ones in Java so nothing new there but interesting new operations to transform between maps and other collections.

Week seven the last week introduced streams and lazy evaluation where in both the value is evaluated when it's needed. Lazy evaluation can be applied to any type of value or function so it's not evaluated until it's needed. Streams are similar to lists where the first element has a value and the rest of the elements aren't evaluated until needed.

Final thoughts

First weeks was a real pain like a boot camp to drop off the students who aren't motivated enough. The middle of the course consisted on familiar concepts from OOP and introduced some functional properties of them. The end of the course put all the learned concepts in use and introduced some functional concepts that are not found in OOP.

In the end I did learn some Scala but even more I learned about functional programming and what it means compared to OOP. This course gave me more than I could ever learn by reading from books or by practicing by myself.

Now that I've completed the course I'm taking a break from studying and after a few weeks of taking it easy I'll be trying out my new skill set with Scala to get some more practice.