F# and Midori Cloud Computing

F# (pronounced F Sharp) is a multi-paradigm programming language, targeting the .NET Framework. It encompasses functional programming as well as imperative, object-oriented programming disciplines. It is a variant of the ML programming language developed by Robin Milner and others in the late 1970s at the University of Edinburgh. F# was initially developed by Don Syme at Microsoft Research but is now part of the Developer Division (where Microsoft’s development tools are built) and is being distributed as a fully supported language in the .NET Framework and Visual Studio as part of Visual Studio 2010

F# “hugely fits” the Midori programming model that was outlined in Microsoft’s documents, Larry O’Brien said, explaining that F# is designed with restrictions that are intended to make it easier for developers to automatically parallelize applications.

For instance, F# is highly immutable—meaning that object states cannot be modified once created—and has an implicit type system. Midori requires developers to follow a similarly constrained model. O’Brien explains:

Immutable variables are [more like constants,] pretty much the opposite of how most programmers think about variables (“A variable that doesn’t vary?”). So just a few years ago, the idea that functional programming was going to catch on seemed very dubious, and it was very surprising that F# became a first-class language so quickly. Similarly, immutability and strong typing make it easier to reason about security.

Microsoft also has rapidly developed its Silverlight runtime. The Midori programming model includes Bartok, “an optimizing compiler and managed runtime system for Common Intermediate Language (which .NET languages compile to).” It is also a Microsoft Research project whose objective was to create a lightweight, compiled and managed runtime system that was more efficient than the .NET Framework. “

There’s no question that Microsoft is seeing Silverlight as the lightweight platform for delivering applications (Web-based and mobile). As far as Midori and [Windows] Azure go, what I can see is that a Silverlight front end is a good front end for an Azure-powered back-end system,” O’Brien said.


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