Employee Spotlight: Jada

This week marks one year since Jada joined Dyalog Ltd, and we asked her about her experiences thus far.

“It’s truly been a whirlwind of a year. I don’t know where the time has gone! It’s been intense, but in the best way possible. I’ve been able to get a feel for everything that being a part of Team Dyalog involves in a very short amount of time, from my first user meeting (Dyalog ’23) to my first product release (Dyalog v19.0). It’s been a steep, but fun learning curve.”

Jada joined us when it became apparent that the administrative needs of the company were growing. She was tasked with taking on some of the jobs that were being done by the Karen and Stine (then the Financial Officer). However, Jada was familiar with Team Dyalog even before she joined, as she had previously attended Dyalog ’19, Dyalog ’22, and various Dyalog internal events as a guest of her partner, Rich Park. Through Rich, Jada was introduced to Dyalog and the world of array programming. “I’ll be honest, a lot of the technical stuff does not yet make sense to me. But that just means there’s so much still to learn, which keeps my work life very interesting. Seeing others try to understand APL code reminds me of Derrida’s views on language, intention, and the need for deconstruction.”

Jada’s daily routine has begun to take shape. “Initially, I had so much to learn, it was rather daunting. From our products/services, our customers, my colleagues, the history of the company, to my actual job…I could go on! But all that initial familiarisation work was worth it, and I had plenty of support along the way.”

So, what does Jada actually do? “Well, think of all the things you need to do to run a business. That’s what I do. I help wherever I can. I deal with office maintenance, renewals for licences, billing, sales of physical products (books, APL keyboards), contract reviews, and all things compliance. I’m also an Apprentice Cat Herder – luckily, I’m learning from the best! Karen has really been my rock this year. She’s one of the most thorough and competent professionals I’ve ever met. I’m hoping to continue to learn a lot from her and Stine.”

Jada also enjoys her life outside work. “I like to read (fiction and Japanese manga), love going for long walks and the occasional run in the woods, and canoeing the Thames with Rich. I always enjoy a good night out as well – gigs, bars, and dancefloors call my name! My latest hobby has been learning to play bass guitar. I’ve got no immediate plans to sell out Wembley, but it’s fulfilling to set my sights on a piece, learn it bar by bar, and gradually improve and gain muscle memory. It can be frustrating at times, but practising is so much fun. My rhythm has improved a lot too.”

Overall, Jada has really enjoyed her first year with us. “I’m so grateful to be here. You see a lot of corporate speak about ‘family’ to distract from poor business practices, but not at Dyalog Ltd. Although this is a company, the heart and soul are the people behind it and the community around us. We’re real, we care, we listen. There’s no apathy or shilling. The passion for Dyalog is infectious. My colleagues’ hard work, meticulousness, and honesty motivate me to apply those qualities to my own work. When I work hard and produce quality work, it’s recognised and that makes me feel valued. I couldn’t ask for a better job with better people.”

Welcome Mike Mingard

Mike recently joined Dyalog Ltd, bringing his experience in web and digital design.

Mike grew up in West London, and now lives by the sea in East Sussex. His background is in Recording Engineering, and he worked for a number of years as a front-of-house sound engineer and theatre stage manager. Having learnt the basics of HTML while at University, he started to develop websites as a hobby; it wasn’t long before he realised the hobby was the more rewarding pursuit.

Four years of web and digital design followed, based in London. Clients included many international companies and organisations such as Merial, The World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and The Pirbright Institute.

Mike then worked for ten years at a West Sussex-based web agency with a diverse mix of clients, from small local companies to brands such as BMW and Suzuki.

In 2013 Mike joined Optima Systems and immediately moved all design and branding work that was previously outsourced to be in-house. Optima System’s internal needs were a primary focus, supplemented with working on websites for many local companies and brands. One of the companies Mike worked with was Dyalog Ltd, so when he needed a new challenge he knew exactly who to speak to!

Mike is now our in-house resource for all marketing and graphical design efforts (social media images, banners, video thumbnails, and so on).

Welcome Abs Suri

After graduating from the University of Portsmouth with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, Abs started investigating IT roles. He wanted something that provided a challenge, working for a team that was passionate about what they do, and in which he could contribute to that effort through the software and IT abilities that he has accumulated; with Dyalog Ltd he found it! Abs was hurled into the world of APL, which was very different to the Python that he was used to. Although his role doesn’t involve much APL, he appreciates how compact APL solutions can be when wielded correctly. Armed with a fresh perspective and a helpful attitude, he joins our IT department hoping to maintain and improve the current IT infrastructure and provide technical solutions to anyone that needs it.

When Abs isn’t working, he can be found gaming, a hobby that started his fascination with computers and technology. He also loves to learn languages and experience different cultures through travelling, and is currently working on his spoken Japanese. However, his true passion lies within music, and he enjoys playing guitar, bass, and drums (whenever he can get his hands on them).

Welcome Aarush Bhat

In pursuit of his dream to contribute to the development of a programming language professionally, Aarush started cold emailing companies that worked on them (there aren’t a lot, but a lot). One of the companies he contacted was Dyalog Ltd. Aarush initially joined us in January 2023 as a contractor, focusing on testing the primitives of the language with a new test suite, and in August he officially became a full-time member of the team.

Aarush’s interest in computers led him to a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, India. Before joining Dyalog Ltd, Aarush explored various facets of web technologies and made significant contributions to projects like Haskell and Bitcoin. When not working professionally, he enjoys contributing to Open Source Software.

Expanding on his love for FOSS, he was selected for sponsored open-source programs like Google Summer of Code and Summer of Bitcoin while still pursuing his academic degree.

Beyond coding, Aarush finds joy in exploring Linux, programming languages, Bitcoin, and dreaming about new mechanical keyboards (he got one)! He also has a penchant for music, photography, F1 racing, and, perhaps most notably, travelling. The flexibility of remote work has allowed Aarush to explore new places and cultures. Due to his love for photography and spending money, he has recently also bought a 360 camera that he still cannot figure out how to turn into a useful webcam. 🙁

Aarush is known on the internet as sloorush or, as his friends call him, rush (pronounced like bush).

Dyalog ’23 Day 5: The End, Yet Still Much More to Do

In his second presentation of the week, Brandon Wilson relayed some of his experiences as a relative newcomer to APL and Dyalog. Having heard that most users learn APL through an apprentice model in which they enter an organisation and are taught by already experienced users, he sought out further help to learn array programming beyond the toy problems that are explored in introductory materials. He urged Dyalog and the APL community to find a way to fill the gap for self-learners to be able to fulfil the Iverson promise, to reap the benefits of notation as a tool of thought in larger applications, and to learn how to map array thinking to their own problem domains.

Kamila talks about her experience this summer at Dyalog

Kamila Szewczyk is the second of Dyalog Ltd’s summer interns. Her primary task was implementing APL Array Notation in the interpreter. She also had lots of great ideas that she has been able to try in internal experimental builds of the interpreter, such as automatic numerical differentiation, the obverse operator as seen in the J language and a monadic inner product where, for example, -.×D computes the determinant of an array D.

Rich shows an interface from Dyalog to Vega-Lite

Rich Park has been exploring data visualisation with Dyalog. In particular, he has been seeing what it would be like to use Vega-Lite – a library inspired by the Leland Wilkinson’s Grammar of Graphics – to visualise data from APL. As well as this Dyalog to Vega-Lite interface, he mentioned that The Carlisle Group has also been exploring similar covers for SharpPlot in their Playfair project; it is exciting to see new work on data visualisation from the APL community.

In the last of the presentations, Stine Kromberg presented some of her thoughts moving forward as the future Managing Director (CEO) of Dyalog Ltd. Although she is not an APLer, she has been around APL all of her life and we feel secure that she understands the business and the people involved…and Gitte says she can call on her for advice for a long time to come! Of course, there has been a lot of new growth at Dyalog Ltd recently, and there are some changes required to co-ordinate the growing team, but Stine’s focus is on staying flexible and open-minded to meet future challenges and support the next generation of Team Dyalog and APL users. New administrative assistant and internal legal reviewer Jada Andrade explained the upcoming simplification of our licence terms, offering a new annual developer licence with access to all supported platforms.

Stine talks about the future of Dyalog

The user meeting concluded with a choice of three workshops; many delegates lamented the lack of a time machine to be able to attend all the sessions! The Testing APL Systems workshop gave participants a look into techniques and best practices for testing and showed some of the existing testing frameworks, such as APLTeam’s Tester2 or the lightweight method shown in Stefan Kruger’s book. In the workshop on Leading Axis Theory and Practice, participants were guided on how to think about arrays in terms of cells (a type of sub-array) and use the rank operator with dyadic transpose to apply any function to parts of data. The third workshop had participants looking at handling files, from some of the nuances of reading text files – much of the time hidden from users of system functions – to functions for copying files and listing the contents of directories.

It’s been another fantastic week, and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of you who joined us to Elsinore. There is a strong sense of reinvigoration and revitalisation that comes with face-to-face meetings with the people who we love to work with and support, both newly-hired APLers and familiar faces, and it’s always wonderful to hear about all the growing businesses and new areas that APL is expanding into. We’re already looking forward to seeing you again in Glasgow next year for Dyalog ’24!

Today’s presentations:

Dyalog ’23 Day 4: So Many Problems to Solve

We started Wednesday with an update to the co-dfns project by Aaron Hsu. Aaron is trying to make APL more accessible to more people for tackling more problems. He explained how version 4 focusses on good performance on GPUs and detailed error reporting – including a parser that can be used for static analysis of APL code outside of Co-dfns – and how version 5 intends to target more platforms, improving integration of APL in other systems. There are even rumours of a JavaScript backend on the horizon! Dyalog available in the browser, wherever you go.

Brandon Wilson presents the challenges of parsing YAML

Brandon Wilson is a relative newcomer to APL. Although his main interest is in AI safety, he has significant experience in mainstream computer systems. This is part of what made him decide to write a YAML (YAML Ain’t Markup Language) parser in APL. Interestingly, most of the existing YAML parsers in use today fail some part of the test suite. This speaks to the complexity of the task and how there are many interactions between different parts of YAML that are not obvious. Brandon is hoping that writing a complete parser the APL way will lead to insights into the YAML specification that he can give back to the YAML community to help the specification developers better communicate what is needed to other parser maintainers.

Next, Josh David highlighted the huge demand for statistics in data science, machine learning, and the increase of data-driven decision-making in business. Although data preparation is easy in APL, he noted the lack of ready-made code for doing statistics. Simple summaries and linear regression take just a few primitives, but Josh showed us a couple of libraries for doing more complex statistical analysis. He demonstrated rapid iteration on multiple linear regression using KokoStats by Dr. Bill Koko, performing multiple tests and seeing the impact of the selected data on the predictive power of the regression model. In Professor Stephen Mansour’s TamStat package, the use of operators reduces the overall number of functions that users need to memorise, and a cross-platform graphical interface makes a great environment for exploring and learning statistics.

Jesús Galan Lopez returned to expand on something that he mentioned in his previous presentation – the modelling of grain growth in solid materials. Students at his university were tasked with reproducing models from published research. They wrote their solutions in Python because it was familiar to them, but Jesús wanted to see how array programming would compare. He found that his APL solution was generally shorter, cleaner, and faster. Of course, he had to compare more like-for-like programs by trying his solution in NumPy as well, and he found Dyalog had comparable performance.

Grand Prize winner Andrea Piseri

Then it was time for the presentation of prizes to winners of this year’s APL Problem Solving Competition. Brian Becker gave a brief history of the competition and overview of the contest website (which uses Dyalog-grown tools). He also announced future changes to the competition, such as quarterly sets of Phase-1-style one-liner problems. Gitte then presented certificates to the student grand prize winner, Andrea Piseri, and professional winner, Alexander Block.

Alexander was first to introduce himself – he is an actuary using APL to solve problems, working in insurance companies in Germany – and talk us through a couple of his solutions. Having used Haskell, he is a big fan of point-free (tacit) programming, and liked his use of the over operator () in his solution to the Risk attack problem from phase 1 (problem 5).

Professional winner Alexander Block

Andrea Piseri is a mathematics student with a particular interest in abstract algebra and mathematical logic, as well as a programming language enthusiast. Coming from the functional programming world, Andrea first solved the DNA reading frames problem (phase 2, problem 1, task 5) using the “flatmap” pattern, but then came up with another solution leveraging comparison and interval-index to process the whole input at once. When tackling the “make change” problem (phase 2, problem 2, task 3) he was surprised to find APL was not so opinionated and that he could quite easily map iterative and recursive patterns from Haskell onto dfns.

This afternoon was the annual Viking Challenge, and this year the team from Midgaard Event set up a thrilling mystery in which we were split into teams to solve a variety of puzzles. The individual puzzles offered a range of challenges to suit all participants, with the ultimate challenge being to piece clues together in a process of elimination. There was temptation to write an APL program to solve the problem, but it was resisted as nine of the twelve teams managed to work out the solution with pen and paper. Eyes rolled with chagrin all around the auditorium when it was announced that the winning team was the team that included both Gitte and Stine!

The winning team of this year’s Viking Challenge

Today’s presentations: