This week in Julia: October 18

By: This week in julia

Re-posted from:

Major breaking changes

  • As anticipated from last week’s integer arithmetic change, the usage of itrunc to truncate integers into a specific type has been removed. Since this is intrinsically a modular arithmetic calculation, rem is now the way to do this, with the idiomatic syntax being 1234 % Uint8 == 0xd2. (#8648)

New proposals

Several new proposals (juleps) were submitted this week.

  • Given that convert is one of the most heavily used functions in Julia, a renewed conversation about using x as Foo as sugar for convert(Foo, x)::Foo was started in #8710.
  • @StefanKarpinski put together a coherent story for how APL-style indexing and lazy transpose behaviors could be combined to solve some of the current inconsistencies (like the double-transpose of a vector not being a vector, and vector dot products being one-element arrays). #4774

0.4 project updates

  • @JeffBezanson managed to get the call-overload branch passing tests! A few questions remain before it can get merged, though. #8712.
  • And a postscript from last week: an intrepid group has managed to successfully build julia with MSVC. I missed including it last week, but I think it’s worthy of a note. See #7761 for details.

Package ecosystem

Sample image

October 10

By: This week in julia

Re-posted from:

There is so much new in the past two weeks! In the future, I’ll try to keep it to one-week posts, but I think all the major changes since my first shot at this on reddit deserve mention.

Major breaking changes

  • Integer arithmetic is now type-preserving
    #8420! Additionally,
    integer conversions (e.g., calling uint8(1234)) will now error if the
    argument doesn’t fit in the new type. The current way to properly truncate
    an integer to a smaller type is via itrunc(Uint8, 1234), but that may be
    changing very soon (#8646).
    Similarly, uint(-1) is also now an error.
  • The Dict literal syntax [a=>b,c=>d] has been deprecated and is replaced
    with Dict(a=>b,c=>d). {a=>b} is replaced with Dict{Any,Any}(a=>b).
    (K=>V)[...] is replaced with Dict{K,V}(...).
    The new syntax has many advantages: all of its components are first-class,
    it generalizes to other types of containers, it is easier to guess how to
    specify key and value types, and the syntaxes for empty and pre-populated
    dicts are synchronized. As part of this change, => is parsed as a normal
    operator, and Base defines it to construct Pair objects (#8521).
  • The any-typed array literal syntax {1,2,3} has also been deprecated. Taken together with the
    dict syntax change above, this means that curly braces will soon be available
    for an awesomer new syntax construct! #8578
  • An empty pair of square brackets [] now constructs an empty Any array
    instead of an array of None. This means that you can now push! elements into []. (#8493)

Standard library improvements

  • deepcopy now recurses through immutable types and makes copies of their mutable fields (#8560). In general, calling deepcopy on an object should generally have the same effect as serializing and then deserializing it.

Performance improvements

  • The julia REPL now magically starts up in half the time! (#8528)
  • Other things that got speed boosts: gcd (#8410), and comparisons with BigInts and BigFloats (#8512).

Upcoming changes and discussions

Package ecosystem

  • The site now has a snazzy new ecosystem pulse page. It shows all the recent changes in the last week, with convenient links to the new and updated packages.
  • Tucked away in an innocent little thread about build systems is this gem: @nolta managed to convert the amos fortran library to julia. But that’s not even the coolest part… he wrote a little fortran-to-julia transpiler (in two passes, and pass1.jl to get the job done. And, amazingly, it is within 1.2x of the original fortran speed. Just goes to show how powerful @goto can really be!

Julia style string literal interpolation in R

By: Francis Smart

Re-posted from:

I feel like a sculptor who has been using the same metal tools for the last four years and happened to have looked at my comrades and found them sporting new, sleek electric tools. Suddenly all of the hard work put into maintaining and adapting my metal tools ends up looking like duck tape and bubble gum patches.

I hate to say it but I feel that I have become somewhat infatuated with Julia. And infatuation is the right word. I have not yet committed the time to fully immerse myself in the language, yet everything I know about it makes me want to learn more. The language is well known for its mind-blowingly speed accomplished through just-in-time compiling. It also has many features which enhance the efficiency and readability of its code (see previous post, note the documentation has greatly improved since posting).

However, though I very much want to, I cannot entirely switch my coding needs from R into Julia. This is primarily due to my ongoing usage of packages such as RStudio’s “Shiny” and the University of Cambridge’s server side software for building adaptive tests, “Concerto”. And so with regret I will resign my Julia coding to probably a minor portion of my programming needs.

That does not mean however that I can’t make some small changes to make R work more like Julia. To this end I have programmed a small function p which will replace string literals identified as “Hello #(name), how are you?” with their values being evaluated. If there are nested parenthesizes then it is necessary to close the literal with “)#”, for example “c=#(b^(1+a))#”.

# Julia like text concaction function.
p <- function(..., sep="", esc="#") { 
  # Change escape characters by specifying esc.
  # Break the input values into different strings cut at '#('
  x <- paste(..., sep=sep)
  x <- unlist(strsplit(x, paste0(esc,"("), fixed = TRUE))
  # The first element is never evaluated.
  out <- x[1]
  # Check if x has been split.
  if (length(x)>1) for (i in 2:length(x)) {
    y <- unlist(strsplit(x[i], paste0(")",esc), fixed = TRUE))
    if (x[i]==y[1])
      y <- unlist(regmatches(x[i], regexpr(")", x[i]),
                             invert = TRUE))
    out <- paste0(out, eval(parse(text=y[1])), y[-1])
# Let's see it in action
p(sep=" ", "Hello #(name).",
  "My record indicates you are #(height) inches tall and weigh #(weight) pounds.",
  "Your body mass index is #(round(703*weight/height^2,1))#") 
# [1] "Hello Bob. My record indicates you are 72 inches tall and weigh 230 pounds. 
# Your body mass index is 31.2" 
# The other nice thing about the p function is that it can be used to concat
# strings as a shortcut for paste0.
# [1] "QRSTUV"

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