[swift-evolution] TrigonometricFloatingPoint/MathFloatingPoint protocol?

Xiaodi Wu xiaodi.wu at gmail.com
Wed Aug 2 20:18:24 CDT 2017

On Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 7:29 PM, Taylor Swift <kelvin13ma at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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).

I believe there has been mention on this list that the core team would like
to revisit this idea at some point.

>>> - 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.)

Well, hang on now. There are plenty of products put out by even major
organizations that are unceremoniously and abruptly cut. There are plenty
of projects worked on by one or a few major people that are long-lived.
Projects that have longevity have some sort of financially sensible model
for their continued existence. Three, thirty, or even 300 unpaid people
working on an open-source project won't make it much more reliable (in the
eyes of others) than one unpaid person, and again I disagree that the
veneer of an organization is superior to presenting the status of the
project honestly. (Example--what is commonly thought to be a bigger threat
to Firefox's continued health: the possibility that there will be a
shortfall in unpaid contributors, or the possibility that there will be a
shortfall in funding?)

Rounding up all the goodwill on this list will not do you any good if your
goal is to convince users that a certain project will be maintained into
the future--because it won't rustle up a single dime. Whether or not you
explicitly equate these in your mind, "backing" == money, and if you want
this point addressed, you're claiming that someone somewhere should be
spending money on a Swift math library. I'm personally committed to making
sure that my code will work for the foreseeable future, but I fully accept
that there's simply no way for me to convince a sufficient number of people
of this fact without a credible showing of funding. In that sense, a
community initiative with "momentum" is decidedly not going to be a
just-as-good alternative to a core library.
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