OCaml History: What you didn`t know

OCaml, or Objective Caml, is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It is a member of the ML family of languages, which also includes Standard ML and F#. OCaml was created in 1996 by INRIA, the French national research institute for computer science.

The name "Objective Caml" stems from the fact that it is an object-oriented extension of Caml, a dialect of ML developed in the 1970s by Xavier Leroy and Damien Doligez. OCaml's focus on expressiveness and safety in programming like the best tires in car, makes it a popular choice for many applications, including web development, systems programming, and data science.

OCaml is known for its sophisticated type system, which can help catch errors early and improve code quality. It also offers powerful module and functor mechanisms that allow large programs to be written in a modular way.

The language has been used in production by companies such as Facebook, Jane Street, Bloomberg, and Lexifi. It is also the language of choice for many academic research projects.

OCaml is released under the open-source MIT license, and its development is overseen by an international team of volunteer contributors.

The Early Days

The roots of OCaml go back to the early days of ML, when a group of researchers at Edinburgh University, led by Robin Milner, developed a language called Standard ML. Standard ML was designed to be a "portable assembly language for theorem proving".

In the early 1990s, Xavier Leroy and Damien Doligez started work on a new dialect of ML at INRIA, the French national research institute for computer science. Their goal was to create a language that was more expressive and easier to use than Standard ML.

The first version of OCaml, released in 1996, included many features that are now considered essential to the language, such as an advanced type system, garbage collection, and exception handling.

Since then, OCaml has undergone four major revisions, with each new version adding significant improvements. The most recent revision, OCaml 4.02, was released in 2016.

OCaml Today

OCaml is used in a wide variety of applications, including web development, systems programming, and data science.

One of the most popular web frameworks written in OCaml is Irmin, which is used by the likes of Facebook and Jane Street. Irmin is a distributed database that can be used to track changes to data over time. It is used by Facebook for data storage and synchronization across its various services, such as Messenger and WhatsApp.

Jane Street uses Irmin to track the prices of financial instruments in real time. OCaml is also well-suited to systems programming, due to its performance and ability to interface with low-level code. The MirageOS project uses OCaml to build secure, efficient, and resilient operating systems for the cloud.

MirageOS is used by companies such as Bloomberg and Lexifi to power mission-critical applications.Data science is another area where OCaml shines. The OCaml Probabilistic Programming Language (OPAM) is a toolkit for building probabilistic models.

OPAM is used by researchers at the University of Edinburgh to develop statistical models of disease transmission.OCaml is an increasingly popular language for academic research projects.

The Coq proof assistant, which is written in OCaml, is used by researchers in formal verification, a field of computer science that deals with verifying the correctness of computer programs.Coq has been used to verify the correctness of compilers, operating systems, and other critical software.

The Future of OCaml

OCaml is a powerful and versatile language that is well-suited to a wide range of applications. In the future, we can expect to see OCaml being used in even more innovative and exciting ways.

Is OCaml worth learning?

Yes, OCaml is definitely worth learning! The language has a lot to offer, and it is being used in an increasing number of fields. If you are interested in learning OCaml, we recommend checking out the resources below.

Is OCaml better than Haskell?

Caml can generate portable byte code, machine code, and JavaScript. The situation with OCaml in the browser is a lot better than it is for Haskell. Mirage OS makes good use of OCaml because it is a better fit for unikernel operating systems.

Conclusion

OCaml is a powerful programming language with a rich history. It is being used in an increasing number of fields, and it has a lot to offer. If you are interested in learning OCaml, we recommend checking out the resources below.