Engineer Spotlight: Sudha Parimalaby Christine Rose and Sudha Parimala on Jan 10th, 2023
For our third and final Engineer Spotlight, we interviewed Sudha Parimala, a Tarides engineer who works primarily on the Multicore Applications team. She talks about what lead her to become an OCaml programmer and why she's excited about OCaml 5, as our blog series on Multicore OCaml continues.
Christine: Why did you decide to become an OCaml programmer rather than Python or C++?
Sudha: My programming journey started with Python in high school. At that point I didn't really know much about programming, and I picked it only as an alternative to studying biology. Python's human language-like syntax made it easy to grasp the concepts as a novice, while also getting a feel of programming constructs. The education board decided to switch to C++, and I ended up learning OOP as a result. I continued learning C, Java, and such during my undergrad.
Then I discovered Haskell and was hooked. I found it wild that I could write a 200+ lines Java program with just 10 lines in Haskell. I got an opportunity to participate in a summer school organised by ACM India on Programming Language Design. This deepened my interest in Functional Programming (FP). After graduating, I got an opportunity to join KC's Multicore OCaml team at IIT Madras. I started learning OCaml then, and there's no looking back.
C: What do you like best in OCaml?
S: I like OCaml's features combined with its practicality. When I started learning OCaml, I could relate to a lot of general FP concepts I had learnt through other languages. At the same time one can easily do imperative programming (mutations) or I/O with ease.
C: What’s the coolest thing you've made with OCaml?
S: When I was working on the Multicore OCaml compiler, I found it really cool that we could easily connect OCaml directly with C, with the type safety of OCaml. If I may add a futuristic take on this is, I'd find it really cool to do hobby projects of mine with the entire stack - from web scraping, to talking to databases, to creating web apps - in OCaml.
C: Why should engineers learn OCaml?
S: I'd recommend learning OCaml to anyone curious to learn new and succint ways of expressing programs. OCaml definitely changes the way you think about programs, and I'm sure that reflects on how you write programs, in OCaml and elsewhere.
C: What are you most excited about in OCaml 5?
S: I'm really excited to see the OCaml world transition to Multicore. It will be a challenging, yet rewarding journey. Challenging because OCaml programs for more than two decades have been designed for single core. Rewarding, thanks to blazing fast performance time and direct style concurrency. The Multicore and OCaml development teams have invested time in ensuring backwards compatibility, which will hopefully ease the process a bit.
Thank you so much, Sudha, for taking the time to answer these questions about your experience with OCaml. Also read Zach Shipko's and Jules Aguillon's interviews for their take! Thanks to their willingness to share, other developers can see why they should learn OCaml as their next language.
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