Informatics 1 – Functional Programming


  1. People
  2. Course description
  3. Schedule
  4. Examination
  5. Programming competition
  6. Course resources
  7. Other resources & external links

1. People

Lecturer: Philip Wadler
Teaching Assistant: Willem Heijltjes

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2. Course description

The course teaches the basics of functional programming using the language Haskell. The main goal is to acquaint the student with fundamental programming concepts such as recursion, abstraction, higher-order functions and data types, whilst at the same time emphasizing the practical use of such constructs by applying them within a graphical environment.

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3. Schedule

The course comprises 20 lectures and 9 tutorials, spread over the eleven weeks of the semester. There is also the drop-in lab: special times at which the computer room in Appleton Tower is staffed by demonstrators, who are ready to help out with any questions on the course material. Lecture notes, tutorial exercises and solutions will be made available here on a weekly basis.


Lectures are on Mondays and Tuesdays, starting week 2, except the very first lecture which is on Friday 25 September, 2-2:50pm, Lecture Theatre 5. There is no lecture on Monday 28 September. See also the semester 1 timetable for Informatics 1.

Drop-in lab

At these times lab demonstrators will be available to assist with the coursework. Drop-in lab is held daily at computer lab West on level 5 of Appleton Tower.
Mondays 3–5pm
Tuesdays 2–5pm
Wednesdays 2–5pm
Thursdays 2–5pm
Fridays 3–5pm


Tutorial groups with their times and places can be found here.

Tutorials are held in groups of 10–12, on Thursdays and Fridays, starting in week 3. Students are expected to prepare for each tutorial, which includes completing the exercises and reading the appropriate chapters in the textbook.

Tutorial exercises will be posted in the table below, and are due at the tutorial of the same week—for instance, the exercises of week 3 will be discussed during the tutorials on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 October. Exercises will be made available at least a week before they're due.


Week Subject Lecture notes Reading assignment Tutorial exercises Solutions
1. 21–25 Sept Systems Intro lect00.pdf *Tutorials start in week 3*
2. 28 Sept–2 Oct Lab Week lect01.pdf lect02.pdf lect02a.hs lect02b.hs 1–3 (pp. 1–52) (Windows) solutions
3. 5–9 Oct Lists and Recursion lect03.pdf lect03.hs 4, 5 & 7 (pp. 53–95, 115–134) solutions
4. 12–16 Oct More fun with recursion lect05.pdf lect05.hs 6 & 8 (pp. 96–114, 135–151) solutions
5. 19–23 Oct Map, Filter, Fold, Sections, Binding lect07.pdf 9–11 (pp. 152–209) solutions
6. 26–30 Oct Binding, lambda calculus & formal proof *Class Test* lect09.pdf solutions
7. 2–6 Nov Algebraic data types lect11.pdf lect11.hs 12–14 (pp. 210–279) solutions
8. 9–13 Nov Abstract types, type classes lect13.pdf SetList.hs SetTree.hs MainList.hs MainTree.hs 15 & 16 (pp. 280–336) solutions
9. 16–20 Nov Parsers & combinators *Mock exam* 17–19 (pp. 337–435) (windows) solutions
10. 23–27 Nov IO and Monads lect17.pdf solutions
11. 30 Nov–4 Dec Hamming, Curry–Howard lect19.pdf lect20.pdf hamming.pdf
12. 7–11 Dec Exam Week 1 *Final exams*
13. 14–18 Dec Exam Week 2

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4. Examination

Examination is done through two tests. The first, the class test, is a hand-written exam held on October 26th in place of the lecture (at the same time and place). The second, the final exam, is a programming test held in the computer labs, scheduled for the examination weeks at the end of the semester. The class test contributes 10% towards the final mark, the final exam contributes 90%.


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5. Programming Competition

Each year the course is concluded with a thrilling programming competition, with an actual prize draw and first prize. The competition usually centers round the drawing of fractal-based images. This provides students with an excellent opportunity to show off the skills they have learned during the course, and to set loose their creativity in an unconstrained environment. Every year students have gone on to amaze the course organizers—and themselves—with ingenious and beautiful drawings and fractals, and this year is certainly not going to be different.

This year's entries and winners can be found here.

Previous programming competition entries:

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6. Course resources


Haskell: The Craft of Functional Programming, Second Edition. Simon Thompson. Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Lectures on video

The lectures will be captured on video and made available here.

Previous exams

Last year's webpage

Last year's webpage can be found here (note that some links will not work).

Questions & Answers

See the newsgroup or the wiki.

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7. Other resources & external links

  1. Alternative textbooks: All of these books were also written for beginning students, and may provide a useful alternative perspective.
  2. Online material on Haskell:
    • Real World Haskell by O'Sullivan, Stewart and Goerzen.
      This is an introductory textbook with a practical angle of approach, fully available online.
    • A Gentle Introduction to Haskell by Hudak et. al.
      It would be good idea for everybody to print out a copy of this and bring it with you to tutorials/demonstrations as a reference.
    • Two Dozen Short Lessons in Haskell by Rex Page.
      This book is available in PostScript and PDF format. To read the PostScript version outside of the University labs, you may need to install additional software. If you can't get a hold of the official textbook, then this one may be of some help.
    • Learn You a Haskell for Great Good by Miran Lipovaca.
      An easy introductory web page with lots of examples.
    • The Haskell Reference at ZVON by Miloslav Nic.
      This site is a friendly version of the Haskell Report. It contains information about all of Haskell's predefined funcions like drop, take, ord, chr, sum and length. Good reference website.
    • A Tour of the Haskell Standard Prelude by Bernie Pope and Arjan van IJzendoorn.
      Another good introduction to Haskell's predefined functions.
    • Video lectures from Microsoft on Haskell.
    • Lecture Notes and Exercises of John Hughes' Introductory Course on Haskell. (See also the old exams at the bottom of the exercises page.)
      This site has everything you could possibly want to know about Haskell, and more! From "A Short Introduction to Haskell" and the aforementioned "A Gentle Introduction to Haskell" to the definition of the language, a list of books on the subject, links to conferences/workshops, and various libraries.
  3. Online material on pair programming:
  4. Teaching Assistant
    Please feel free to email the teaching assistant with any questions you may have concerning Haskell.
  5. Lecturer
    If after consulting all the above resources, you still can't find an answer to your question or just want to know even more, please email the lecturer.

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