Happy Saturday! It’s April, I just finished doing my taxes, and I’m excited to share some links with you all this week :)

Memory managegment madness

To add on to the Algoilia article about malloc_trim from the last newsletter, I have two more to share:

  • Garbage Collection for Systems Programmers (Matt Kline): I’ve been learning the lessons in this article the hard way over the past few weeks at work, and Matt sums it all up amazingly succinctly. Modern garbage collectors may increase latency due to GC pauses but don’t really reduce raw throughput in terms of operations per second — whether or not that tradeoff is worth it is up to your specific use case.

  • Underrust: What does vec![0u8; 1024] really do? (Graham King): One of those extremely narrow and deep dives down a line of code most programmers don’t think much about, but whose performance characteristics can make a huge difference in systems. I’d love to start writing deep dives like this someday.

Human-computer Interfaces

  • Type Inference Was a Mistake (Fernando Boretti): I love strong type systems, and yet my least favorite languages are not Python and JavaScript, but C++ and Java(8), where specifying types over and over again is almost always mandatory. Fernando has an interesting perspective in this post which focuses on Hindley-Milner type inference in OCaml. An interesting point from the end of the post: “I don’t want to infer types from my code. I’d rather infer the code from the types.”

  • llm cmd undo last git commit (Simon Willison): It’s still so early in figuring out the right paradigms for interacting with generative AI for productive work, and experimentation in this space is exciting to see. This “prompt, confirm, execute” loop feels promising to me.

Computing and society

  • This Video Has 71,650,121 Views (Tom Scott): An introduction to what an API is for a less technical audience, and also a powerful meditation on the fragility of the modern Web.

  • Universities have a Computer Science problem (Ian Bogost): I’ve long thought that universities have been too slow to adapt to how much computing and the Internet have permeated our enire economy — academic computer science programs are overcrowded and are not actually teaching what most undergraduate students who enroll in them are looking for. This was a great summary of the state of affairs with some perspectives about where to go from here.

  • Will AI Break the Internet? Or Save It? (Nilay Patel on The Ezra Klien Show): Ezra and Nilay are good friends from Ezra’s days at Vox and their raport helps carry this insightful podcast episode focused on how our society and economy will need to adapt from the changes that generative AI is bringing to the culture and media landscapes.

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