Looking for needles in haystacks

Paul Crowley wrote “Here's a proper programming challenge, simple to state, and in the end quite challenging to solve. A function produces a 64-bit output given a 64-bit input. It mostly behaves like a random function, so given a random input, most outputs occur with probability between 0 and 2-63; in other words, for a randomly-chosen 64-bit y, there are usually between 0 and 2 solutions to the equation f(x) = y. However, a few occur with much greater frequency - more like 2-32 or so. The function is pretty quick and easy to calculate, but its internal structure defies direct analysis. How would you identify these more frequent occurrences by experiment? How big a computer would you need to do it in something like a few hours to a few days? Think about it for a while before you read on.”


Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “I’ve just taken another look at where the Slate language project has gotten up to. Last time I looked was almost a year ago now. There’s been a lot of progress! The time seems ripe for Slate to get an event loop, so that proper networking and threading can be built on it.”

Big bucks for big bugs

francis wrote “I was recently working on a project where the client wanted us to add some features and updates to a web-facing database which they had paid some big name consultants to develop for them. Wow, did what we received look impressive. It used some of the latest industry buzz-words: SQL Server, ASP.NET, Web services, to…”

Truncated differential cryptanalysis of five rounds of Salsa20

Paul Crowley wrote “eSTREAM have just put my paper online: Truncated differential cryptanalysis of five rounds of Salsa20 (PDF) (discussion, Wikipedia on Salsa20). This doesn’t break the whole cipher, just a seriously reduced version. Experimentation played a key role in finding this result. I found the first differential by writing a short Python program that implemented a pretty…”

Spoon and the Object Visualiser

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “Take a look at this part of NetJam.ORG, in which Craig Latta builds a visual display of a running Smalltalk Image. Be sure to check out the movie of the first 50ms or so of a running image. Smalltalk gets all the cool toys.”

Something about early, and often?

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “Naturally, almost as soon as I’d posted about my extensions to pregexp, I discovered a bug in said extensions. It was something I should have caught, too: in the code I had a constant (3) which I couldn’t explain. I had expected it to be 2, not 3, and the need for the extra increment…”

When will the Haskell community finally get their act together

Matthias Radestock wrote “…and produce a usable package system? The absence of a standardised and user-friendly mechanism to package & distribute libraries, and to locate and install such libraries has been a major stumbling block in the adoption of non-mainstream programming languages for a long time. I wrote about it [here](https://www.lshift.net/news.20030928lispconference.html) in the context of Scheme. Haskell is…”

xxexpr.ss – an SXML-to-XML converter

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “The SSAX XML parsing- and processing-library provides robust, high-quality XML reading tools for Scheme, but doesn’t include a general purpose XML writer. Over the past couple of years, a few of my projects have had a need to convert SXML-like data to an XML 1.0 external representation, and so I’ve written a portable SXML-to-XML printing…”

A SRFI-10-style extension to JSON

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “Background The data language JSON is a great replacement for XML for many applications. It’s very similar in spirit to Lisp and Scheme S-expressions, as well as to XML: it is a pure data language, with no intrinsic semantics. XML doesn’t allow direct literal representation of any data types other than strings and XML nodes…”

Continuation-Passing Style in Javascript

Tony Garnock-Jones wrote “As part of my recent experiments with Javascript, I happened to want a sleep function. Interestingly, there isn’t one available in browser-side Javascript environments – instead, there are four functions setInterval clearInterval setTimeout clearTimeout and they take functions to call after a certain number of milliseconds have gone by. This leads to programming in continuation-passing…”