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Recent Readings

Book review: Darwinia
Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer reading: Spin
Reviewed: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Reviewed: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the Omnivoire's Delimma
Reviewed: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the Golem's Eye
Reviewed: Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Value versus Cost
Friday, April 1, 2005

Alan Perlis said that Lisp programmers "know the value of everything and the cost of nothing" because every Lisp expression returned something (*) but Lisp's high-level nature made it hard for neophytes (and often wizards!) to know how much work the expression actually involved. These days modern hardware architectures -- with their microcode, pipelining and other wizardry -- can make even C seem high-level. Usually, fast is fast enough and compilers are "smart" enough and this isn't a big problem. Sometimes, however, we still need to understand what is going on under the hood.

To this end, Jonathan Rentzsch has a gentle introduction to the power and pitfalls of byte alignment (focusing on the PowerPC platform). I had a vague idea of what was involved but he lays it out clearly and with vigor and I learned a lot!

(*) this was before a form like (values) could allow an expression to return nothing...


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Copyright -- Gary Warren King, 2004 - 2006