What I cannot create, I do not understand.

Just because you've implemented something, doesn't mean you understand it.

Graham's scan, Graham Hutton, Wikipedia, and CLRS

The author’s of RWH point to the Wikipedia articles on convex hulls and Graham’s scan as a reference for the exercise I mentioned last week. Wikipedia’s great, but Introduction to Algorithms (CLRS) has a much clearer presentation of the algorithm I think (Wikipedia has pseudo-code from Algorithms by Sedgewick and Wayne but I haven’t actually read that so I won’t presume to judge it based on someone’s “adaptation”). It’s tempting to edit the article with the version from CLRS, only to have it reverted a few days later, but I think I will refrain.

Finding a convex hull from a set of points is a nice problem because convex hulls can be described so easily in two dimensions by visualizing a rubber band around nails driven into a board. The Graham scan is also quite easily understood, at least at the abstract level. I found this great animation which the user David Ashley uploaded and posted to the Discussion page which really illuminates how the algorithm works:


I’m not going to belabor this too much, and I certainly won’t do a code review of my Haskell solution, that would be too precocious, if you’re really interested it’s on Github.

Completing this exercise coincided with the delivery from Amazon of Graham Hutton’s Programming in Haskell, which is very nice, exactly what \ it claims to be: a simple, clear, and concise introduction to the language. I’m already several chapters into it, my only real criticism is the strange choice to use certain symbols instead of actual Haskell syntax (such as an arrow instead of minus-greater-than) but that’s easily overlooked, or maybe not, depending on your taste.