Thursday, December 01, 2005

DavidM helped me to find a slew of bytecode libraries (many of which are here). Some of these are better than others, but I was surprised to discover that none of them work from the basis of an AST. That means a lot of work gluing an AST onto an appropriate bytecode library, which reduces the advantages of using third party libraries.

That leads me back to looking at an existing compiler, as these must already go from AST to bytecode. All I'm trying to achieve beyond this is the ability to persist and retrieve the AST in RDF, and a public API for modifying the AST. So maybe I should be going directly to a compiler like the one built into Eclipse?

Types and Computer Languages
One of DavidM's first suggestions to me was to use the expression library from Kawa. While it doesn't express an AST either, it does meet much of the criteria of what I'm looking for. However, it is really centered around providing support for Scheme in a JVM.

I don't really know Scheme, and my first thought was that this would be something else I'd rather avoid learning (there's so much to learn these days - I have to be discriminatory). However, Andrae was quick to point out that it's a type of Lisp, and that I already have the basics in the lectures on "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" (which I have the video files for). He also pointed out that given the Lisp heritage of OWL that I'd do well to learn Scheme. So I decided to pull the lectures back out, dust them off, and watch them right through (I'd only seen the first 4 before). It's not always easy to find the time, but I have to say that I enjoy watching them.

Fortunately, I have a new iPod (yes, that involved some wrangling with Anne), so I've converted all the lectures over to it (courtesy of FFmpeg) and can watch it whenever I have a spare moment. It's just a shame that the battery can only handle a couple of hours of video.

While discussing languages with Andrae, he mentioned Types and Computer Languages by Benjamin Pierce. I've always been impressed with Andrae's knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of languages, and had put it down to extensive reading on the topic. This book is apparently one of the central sources for the information, so I'm thinking I'd like to read it.

I went looking around the appropriate bookstores in Brisbane yesterday, and half of them did not even have access to a distributor for this book. When I finally found one, they told me it would take 6 weeks to come in from America, and would cost $185 AUD. Looking at Amazon, I'm able to purchase the book and its sequel for only about $165 AUD (and that's probably a similar shipping time). So I'd be buying the book from there, if it weren't for the fact that we're about to move! Would I ship the book here, to my in-laws near Melbourne (where I'll be working for a couple of weeks around Christmas), or to the office in Chicago?

The visa paperwork is very frustrating. It would be nice to know when I'm moving for real. <sigh>

In the meantime I'm reading Java Puzzlers in my Copious Free Time, and enjoying it thoroughly. It's the puzzles that I couldn't answer on my own that I enjoy the most. I've been bugging all my friends with them. :-) The best part is that it's finally encouraged me to read the JVM specification.

Knowledge Mining
Today I dropped into UQ for a short seminar by Osmar Zaiane, which he presented on Knowledge Mining. I'm glad I went, as it discussed several techniques of semantic extraction. In particular, it described the details of several methods based on Apriori.

It also served to remind me about how much I really remember about neural networks (more than I care to admit), and that they're still considered the best solution to some classification problems. Perhaps I should revisit them.

Some of these techniques, plus a few others that were mentioned, may help me to boost the level of semantic extraction I've been able to get so far at Herzum. I'll have to look into this area a little more.

While at the university I dropped in a form to defer my enrolment for a couple of months. With the new job, the new baby, Christmas, and the impending move to Chicago, I figured I might be able to use a short break. Bob agreed that it sounds like a good idea. So I'm officially off until April, though I expect to be working on Kowari and OWL a little in the meantime.

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