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Caml Trading: Experiences in Functional Programming on Wall Street td Tue May 1 12:42:31 2007
This month's Monad.Reader has an interesting article by Yaron Minsky on adoption of O'Caml by a Wall Street firm for financial and trading software. Excerpts:
One of the things we noticed very quickly when we started hiring people to program in OCaml was that the average quality of applicants we saw was much higher than what we saw when trying to hire, say, Java programmers. It’s not that there aren’t really talented Java programmers out there; there are. It’s just that for us, finding them was much harder. The density of bright people in the OCaml community is impressive, and it shows up in hiring and when reading the OCaml mailing list and when reading the software written by people in the community. That pool of talent is probably the single best thing about OCaml from our point of view.
It has been my experience and the experience of most of the OCaml programmers I’ve known that the object system in OCaml is basically a mistake. The presence of objects in OCaml is perhaps best thought of as an attractive nuisance. Objects in ML should be at best a last resort. Things that other languages do with objects are in ML better achieved using features like parametric polymorphism, union types and functors. Unfortunately, programmers coming in from other languages where objects are the norm tend to use OCaml’s objects as a matter of course, to their detriment. In the hundreds of thousands of lines of OCaml at Jane Street, there are only a handful of uses of objects, and most of those could be eliminated without much pain.