[Perl] Report on the last meeting

Shlomo Yona shlomo at cs.haifa.ac.il
Tue Sep 17 00:20:30 PDT 2002


Since Gabor is by now on his way to the YAPC::Europe::2002, and won't have time to
review the last meeting, I think I will.

The meeting took place in Haifa university.

Attended the meeting:

Gabor Szabo
Shlomo Yona
Eli Billauer
Tzafrir Cohen
Alon Altman
Pinkhas Nisanov
Mikhael Goikhman

Most of the people came for the first time (at least, I saw them in a Perl
Mongers meeting for the first time), most probably due to the fact that the
Technion is a few minutes away.

We had some discussions, prior to the lecture, on Hebrew over Linux, and Tzafrir
started hacking my laptop to install the new culmus fonts (a job he is yet to finish, ahmmm).

Gabor started approximately on time, a bit after 19:00, with a review of three new modules
he recently uploaded to CPAN: Array::Unique, Games::NIM and Games::Chomp.

Array::Unique, so it appeares, was born by mistake, and serves mostly as a lesson:
Gabor wanted a data structure which holds elements with order and can be accessed with indices,
yet do not keep more than one copy of each element. Sure you can hack this with a combination
of a LIST and a HASH but Gabor wanted to increase his code readability by hiding the implementation
and giving an interface which behaves like an ARRAY. Gabor showed us his implementation which was
unfortunately not so efficient, computational-complexity speaking, and show ways to improve it.
The great lesson, was that after various attempts of optimization, Gabor realized he needed no more
than a simple HASH to begin with - so when you want unique elements, use a hash.

The rest of the lecture was about two games, NIM and CHOMP (not the Perl chomp...). Gabor explained the
games, and some of the mathematical properties of the games and presented a very interesting overview
of attempts made through history to solve the games and present a methematicali defined methods of
winning (solving) these games. It seems that for many versions of these games the solution in unknown, while
only special cases are known to be solveable, which can be mathematically prooved.
Unfortunately, there was no time to discuss how Perl has to do with these games, and their mathematical
properties, and we hope to have Gabor tell us about that in some future lecture.

After the lecture, some of us stayed to discuss topics of future Perl lectures, and their nature, so we
can attract more people on one hand, yet not bore them with simple stuff anyone with a PC can learn alone
in 5 minutes. We basically has as many different conclusions as the number of people participating in the
debate... :-) So I guess we will have lectures on any topic someone is willing to give and that's that :-)

I hope the rest of the participants will add onto this summary their own impressions.

Shlomo Yona
shlomo at cs.haifa.ac.il

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