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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Report on Scala

                Scala is a program language created by Mr. Martin Odersky and others.  It is intended to be an elegant blend between object-oriented design and functional programming.  There is a belief within its ranks that every function is a value and every value is an object.  Development began on the language in 2001 followed by the initial release in 2003.  After an attempt to improve Java, the project spun off into its own formulated specifically for component style software engineering.  The data types of the language are common.  Numbers can be in the form of doubles, floats, longs, ints, shorts and bytes.  Strings, long form sequence of alphanumeric or Unicode characters, are from the Java library.  There are also individual characters as chars and true/false values as Booleans.  There is some uniqueness as units, iterables, maps, options, sets and lists are added to the mix of instantiable data types.  Even “empty” sets are possible with nothing and null objects.  Scala has five primary keywords for creation as class, object, def, val and var are needed to identify user definitions.  Classes are the design for what an object can be while objects are just a single instance.  Another keyword new is used to convert the class to a created object.  The main method to run an application is customarily contained in a user defined object.  The def keyword is used to create functions.  The keyword is followed by the name, the parameters in parentheses, a colon, the return type, an assignment operator and the set of instructions contained in brackets.  Val signifies a place holder where the assigned value will not be changed while var can be modified later in usage.  The syntax calls for either the val or var keyword followed by the name then colon, datatype and finally with what is being assigned to it.  Scala also has user defined types.  The keyword type is placed before the name and then you assign a predefined type with the assignment operator.  As file organization goes, Scala is very similar to Java in the matter of naming convention.  Also like Java, Scala uses the keywords package and import to define project scope and add external files respectively.  Scala features two forms of generics.  One is the traditional abstract class where you provide a simple framework to be used later.  Very analogous to abstract classes is the concept of traits.  Traits also allow variables and methods that are inheritable to another class.  The inheritance occurs with the keyword extends.  The capability of concurrent processing is very heavily associated with the ‘java.util.concurrent’ package.  There are two points to this topic.  The first is having two library methods of callable which returns a value and runnable that does not.  Then you will have to look at various of threading possible with synchronous and asynchronous tasks.  Where Scala shows promise is in how vast and dynamic it can be.  The possibility to implement nested functions is another positive addition.  For me, a drawback is how closely relatable it is to Java and running on a Java virtual machine. 
                The difference between Scala and C would be akin to comparing Java and C.  Start with the time period to get a better understanding.  C was created in 1972 and Scala in 2001.  C is the basis for many programming language concepts since its inception.  Scala is a fairly newer language and is heavily dependent on Java.  Much of the grunt work that developer had to do in C has been made much easier within built-in libraries for Scala.  The major difference you could point to would be the same in comparing other languages.  All languages will have a particular syntax for committing common tasks.   The level of complexity is dependent upon the features included into the language but again they maybe more time dependent as concepts were created by pioneers and deciphered to be made simpler for users to come later down the line.  To complete project one in Scala would be helped by the automatic sorting array feature but much of the rest would be similar.
[2] Odersky, M. et al. An Overview of the Scala Programming Language.  EPFL Technical Report. 2nd Edition. 2004.
[3] Odersky, M. Scala By Example. 2014.
[4] Odersky, M. A Brief History of Scala. 2006.
[5] Venners, B. and Sommers, F.  The Origins of Scala. 2009.
[7] Concurrency in Scala.

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