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The Little MLer Paperback – 19 Feb 1998

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About the Author

Matthias Felleisen is Trustee Professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University, recipient of the Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, and co-author (with Daniel Friedman) of The Little Schemer and three other "Little" books published by the MIT Press. Daniel P. Friedman is Professor of Computer Science at Indiana University and is the author of many books published by the MIT Press, including The Little Schemer (fourth edition, 1995), The Seasoned Schemer (1995), A Little Java, A Few Patterns (1997), each of these coauthored with Matthias Felleisen, and The Reasoned Schemer (2005), coauthored with William E. Byrd and Oleg Kiselyov. Robin Milner was Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Professor at the Informatics Forum in the University of Edinburgh.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
marvelous! 28 May 1999
By J. putnam - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent little book that will subvert your programming style (for the better) if you read it at all closely. It teaches quite a bit about ML programming (and indeed functional programming in general) in small snippets.
Highly recommended for experienced programmers and novices alike.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This little book opened a very big window in my thinking 29 Dec. 2006
By Reginald Braithwaite - Published on
Format: Paperback
At first glance this book is an enigma. The Socratic dialog brings back pleasant memories of "Godel, Escher, Bach" but as a programmer with thirty years of experience I was tempted to turn to a more comprehensive reference work.

I am glad I didn't. I disciplined myself to read every word and actually try every exercise, instead of skimming the material. I think this was vital. As I immersed myself in ML's world, I found myself starting to "think in types."

Had I simply skimmed the material, I'm sure I would have ended up learning how to write Ruby or Scheme programs in ML, rather than learning how to write ML programs in ML. Yes, a reference work will be the next step. But The Little MLer did a wonderful job of getting me to leave the comfort of my preconceptions about how to program and see things in a new light.

I wouldn't go as far as to say this book's revelations are on par with classics like "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs", but I would say that this little book opened a very big window in my thinking.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Should have been in OCaML dialect 15 April 2007
By Scott C. Locklin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this as an aid to learn more about functional programming, in an effort to learn OCaML. While the book does include a useful translation table for OCaML, it is, in fact, written with Standard ML as its syntax. While none of the ML dialects are presently particularly popular, I am pretty sure OCaML and the coming Microsoft OCaML variant, F#, are the dominant dialects, and as such this book should probably be written for people who use these dialects.

The book isn't useful for actually learning a language in detail anyway, but it is useful for learning the functional paradigm (I had originally heard of it in learning lisp). It is written in a socratic dialog fashion that many will find annoying, but which I found useful. It is a step by step manual for understanding certain important things. If you don't take all the steps, the book won't work for you.

One thing I will say against it; I do not think the book is useful to own. If you can't spend the money for something you'll effectively throw away after you use it, you should probably seek it out in the library, or borrow a copy for a friend. This book isn't a reference; it is a process. That said, it is also a classic; if you write code, you should probably have gone through this book either in ML form, or in its Lisp or Scheme version. Most people have many books on their shelves which they have never read. If you read a good fraction of this one, it is money well spent.
14 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Simplistic Introductory Text 15 Sept. 2001
By douglasslnc - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Little MLer takes the Socratic method to the extreme. The book is laid out in two columns, basically a question and an answer, and that's it. The authors make light of their subject matter, which can be entertaining, but the format definitely kills its utility as a reference. The one-page index is not very helpful. The book does take a dramatic turn in complexity around page 81, just short of the halfway point (in a book full of white space, mind you), when the truly useful fundamentals of functional programming are finally taken up, so that the reader with prior experience no longer feels coddled. It would make this book so much more useful if the authors included a reference section at the end, perhaps with the definitions of the SML '97 basis library, with which a professional can now do real-world application programming. This is a nice and at times fun introduction to ML that gives the reader a hint as to the true power and complexity of functional programming, but buyers should be aware THIS WILL NOT BE THE ONLY ML BOOK YOU WILL NEED.
0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Strange Socratic Method 7 July 2013
By D. Quist - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a series of questions about a language, and periodically it answers those questions. It is strange and probably not what you're looking for when trying to learn ML. You would be better served by randomly typing into an ML interpreter and analyzing the output from it.
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