[swift-evolution] TrigonometricFloatingPoint/MathFloatingPoint protocol?

Taylor Swift kelvin13ma at gmail.com
Wed Aug 2 19:29:28 CDT 2017

On Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 7:54 PM, Xiaodi Wu <xiaodi.wu at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 6:29 PM, Taylor Swift <kelvin13ma at gmail.com> wrote:
>> See, my problem with statements like this one, is that the answer “should
>> be supported as a third-party library” can also be interpreted as “not my
>> problem, go figure it out yourselves”. The idea that central entity can
>> only pay attention to what they want to, and the Community™ will magically
>> take care of the rest is one of the most pervasive, and untrue, myths about
>> open source. What’s worse, is that Swift has the benefit of hindsight, in
>> the form of many, many examples of languages that came before and fell
>> victim to this fallacy, and now have 15 competing “private” classes for
>> basic mathematical objects like *vectors*.
>> I agree that a core math library, for example, *could* in theory be
>> supported as a third-party library.
> The core team has said that they're open to a core math library being part
> of the Swift open source project; they just outlined that the _process_ for
> doing so is best initiated with a third-party library as a starting point.
>> But this will never happen on its own, for reasons that I will reiterate
>> here:
>> - no one influential enough has bothered to jump start any such project
> Karoly Lorentey has a wonderful, and quite mature, BigInt project: <
> https://github.com/lorentey/BigInt>. Also, as I mentioned, I just started
> a project for protocol-based additions to Swift's basic numeric
> types. These are just two examples.
>> - there are no avenues to encourage members of the community to come
>> together and organize a project (look how this thread got derailed!)
> You're welcome to join me in my endeavor to create a math library. I'd bet
> Karoly feels the same way about his project.

You don’t know how happy reading that sentence just made me, i’d assumed no
one was willing to team up to build such a thing. In which case, it’s a
good idea to start an incubator organization on Github. I think David
Turnbull tried doing that 2 years ago, I’ll reach out to him if he wants to
be a part of something like this.

We should also maintain an index of promising pure swift libraries so they
are discoverable (like docs.rs does for Rust).

>> - there is no “soft” infrastructure in place to support such
>> collaboration (look at the fuss over discourse and mailing list spam!)
> The GitHub environment has excellent tools to support such collaboration,
> IMO. For example:
> Based on my experience implementing a library, I wrote a Gist to outline
> some lessons learned and suggestions for improvement. Not only did the
> document find an audience, these suggestions were in turn used to inform
> core team-driven revisions to the integer protocols. As a result of these
> revisions, it became possible to implement some initializers that could be
> useful for people writing generic numeric algorithms. Recently, I submitted
> a PR to the Swift project on GitHub to implement these initializers. Now,
> everyone will be able to use them. Collaboration, positive feedback loop,
> win-win for all involved.
> Likewise, Karoly used his experience updating BigInt for Swift 4 to inform
> certain improvements to the integer protocols. He implemented these
> improvements in a series of PRs. Now, as a result of these developments,
> Karoly's library will be better designed *and* everyone else will benefit
> from a better implementation of the integer protocols. Again,
> collaboration, positive feedback loop, win-win for all involved.

Great!! can you link me to the gist?

> - there are no positive feedback loops whereby a promising project can
>> gain market share and mature
>> - because there is no organization backing these projects, potential
>> users are reluctant to depend on these libraries, since they will logically
>> bet that the library is more likely to fall out of maintenance than reach
>> maturity.
> Addressing this point is clearly impossible. When Apple wishes to commit
> its own resources to the maintenance of a Swift math library,
> swift-corelibs-math will appear on GitHub. Suggestions such as opening an
> empty repo and letting people contribute to it would either give the
> illusion of organizational backing that doesn't exist or would in fact
> commit Apple to support a repo that it doesn't wish to support. I fail to
> see why the former is good for anybody; in fact, it's strictly inferior to
> the same repo honestly representing itself as a third-party effort. And
> asking for the latter is essentially asking Apple to create a Swift math
> library--which, again, is not in the cards.

My point wasn’t really to exhort Apple to create a Swift math library, just
that people are more willing to depend on a library if the library’s bus
factor is greater than 1. A lot of great Swift packages in one one guy or
girl’s github repository who later disappeared. Turnbull’s SGLOpenGL
library is a good example of this; his library no longer compiles which
motivated me to write swift-opengl
<https://github.com/kelvin13/swift-opengl>. Then again, I’m sure people
feel the same way about depending on swift-opengl today as I felt about
depending on SGLOpenGL.

There just has so be some semblance of organization. That organization
doesn’t have to come from Apple or the swift core team. A community
initiative with sufficient momentum would be just as good. (The problem of
course is that it is rare for a community initiative to arise.)
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