Welcome to the weekly series “Meet The Champion”.
In the weekly series, we would talk to the winner of “Perl Weekly Challenge” and find out more about him/her. In this first blog of the series, we are talking to our first champion Laurent Rosenfeld. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.
Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?
Laurent: I graduated as a software engineer in 1996 (at age 40) and I have been working in this capacity (mainly development) ever since.
Prior to that, I’ve had other jobs (among others, translator in technical, legal, and accounting fields). But I had been interested with programming since the 1980s (and even before in the late 1970s to a lesser extent) as a personal hobby. When I decided I wanted to change job in the late 1980s, it was obvious to me that I wanted to do something related to CS and especially software development. I followed evening courses (on top on my professional activity) for about 6 or 7 years and obtained two master degrees (computer science and software engineering) in 1996.
I must be a kind of serial “take up your studies again” activist, since I also followed later an executive MBA curriculum with the Concordia University in Montreal and graduated in 2006.
Almost all my CS career so far has been in the telecommunication industry, working mainly for a tier-one telecommunication operator (mainly in the field of mobile phones). My main area of activity is data munging, data quality and data migration. I’m working very commonly with very large data sets, e.g. comparing data from files containing usually tens and even hundreds of millions of lines. This is one of the reasons I’m very concerned with performance problems, finding fast algorithms, etc.
Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl/Raku?
Laurent: I have been using Perl 5 one-liners for quick jobs since the late 1990s, but I really started to use Perl 5 as a programming language for real programs in 2003 in the context of a data migration project. But my job led me to use Perl 5 almost daily only around 2010.
I started to get occasionally interested with Raku in 2012-13, but I really took up learning it seriously in early 2014. Later that year, I started to first translate and then write tutorials on Perl 6 in French. By the end of 2015, I had translated or written tutorials representing in total about 250 to 300 full-size (A4) pages. And in February 2016, I started to write the “Think Perl 6” book, which I completed by the end of that year and was published by O’Reilly in May 2017.
Mohammad: How did you come to know about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Mohammad: What do you like the most about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Laurent: Interesting problems for me to solve, and interesting solutions from others to read.
Mohammad: Is there any thing you like to change?
Laurent: Not really. It’s a very good initiative and its creator has done a wonderful job implementing it. I would hope that it becomes more popular (I try to help with my blog posts) and that there would be more discussions about it. I’ve discovered only recently Kian-Meng Ang’s weekly column, this is really a beautiful idea and I truly enjoyed reading Kian-Meng’s reviews. We probably need more such things to make the Perl Weekly Challenge even more popular.
Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Laurent: Well, to develop initial solutions, probably 1 to 2 hours, sometimes less, sometimes a bit more. But then, I usually write a blog post on the subject and often try to suggest several different approaches, and that takes much more time, probably between 5 and 10 hours.
Mohammad: Do you checkout others solutions and who is your favourite?
Laurent: Yes, most of the time, I check at least some of the other solutions (only after having completed my own). I don’t like too much the idea of naming some contributors because that wouldn’t do justice to the others. I’ll just drop a few names (heavily influenced by my specific interest with Perl 6): Joelle Maslak, Simon Proctor, Ruben Westerberg and many others. I’m also very glad that Damian Conway started to blog about it a few weeks ago, as his writings are usually magnificent masterpieces and you can learn an awful lot from them.
Mohammad: What do you suggest someone just started the weekly challenge?
Laurent: You at least start and try some of the challenges, if the whole thing is too much or if some parts fall out of your area of expertise.
Mohammad: Do you find the website user friendly? What do you like most?
Laurent: Yes, it is very good. I like the recaps, the charts, and everything. And, as mentioned earlier, the weekly review by Kian-Meng Ang, that I discovered only a couple of weeks ago.
Mohammad: Anything else you would like share with us?
Laurent: Very good job, Mohammad, thank you very much for that, and, please, keep the ball rolling.
That brings the end of the conversation with Laurent Rosenfeld. Please do let us know your view. We will come back soon with another champion.