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"Unison: a new distributed programming language" by Paul Chiusano

Strange Loop · Youtube · 22 HN points · 4 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention Strange Loop's video ""Unison: a new distributed programming language" by Paul Chiusano".
Youtube Summary
Unison is an open source functional programming language with special support for building distributed, elastic systems. It began as an experiment: rethink all aspects of the programming experience, including the core language, runtime, tooling, as well as code versioning and publishing, and then do whatever is necessary to eliminate needless complexity and make building software once again delightful, or at the very least, reasonable.

We're used to thinking of a program as a thing that describes what a single OS process will do, and then using a separate layer of technologies outside of our programming languages to "configure" many separate programs into a single distributed, elastic "system". This gets complicated. The core language of Unison starts with the premise that no matter how many nodes a computation occupies, it should be expressible via a single program, not many separate programs. Unison programs can describe their own deployment, elastically scale and orchestrate themselves, and deploy themselves in parallel onto any number of nodes for execution.

This talk introduces the Unison language and its tooling and shows what it can be like to program systems of any size with this model of computing.

Paul Chiusano
Unison Computing

Paul Chiusano started the research that led to the Unison language and is a cofounder of Unison Computing, a public benefit corp. He has over a decade of experience with purely functional programming in Haskell and Scala and coauthored the book Functional Programming in Scala. He lives and works in Somerville, MA.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this video.
Jan 10, 2020 · reggieband on The Unison language
I recently came across Unison through YouTube recommending me a series of videos from the "Strange Loop" channel [1]. The fundamental idea of uniquely addressing functions based on a hash of their AST is mind-blowing to me. Immediately my mind started to consider many of the possible paths such an idea could lead down, many of which are clearly tickling the minds of many of the commenters in this thread.

My first thought was the same insight from von Neumann architectures: code is data. So I thought of package repositories with URLs corresponding to hashes of function definitions. http://unison.repo/b89eaac7e61417341b710b727768294d0e6a277b could represent a specific function. A process/server could spin up completely dumb other than bootstrapped with the language and an ability to download necessary functions. You could seed it with a hash url pointer to the root algorithm to employ and a hash url to the data to run against and it could download all of it's dependencies then run. I imagine once such a repo was up and running you could do something like a co-routine like call and that entire process just happens in the background either on a separate thread or even scheduled to an entirely different machine in a cluster. You could then memoize that process such that the result of running repo-hash-url against data-hash-url is cached.

e.g. I have run against and store the result at


Jan 10, 2020 · tracnar on The Unison language
There's an example in this talk:

Basically you can quote code (like in Lisp) and pass it to an executor (thread, remote server, ...).

The main difference is that thanks to the immutability, you can also have a protocol which shares efficiently all the dependencies required to execute the code (like a git pull).

It also uses an effect system, so the implementation does not need to decide which executor to use, it only uses an interface called an "ability", and the caller can choose the implementation.

Jan 10, 2020 · ed on The Unison language
For a good introduction, watch this talk at 1.5x speed from 2:50 to 5:40

Jan 10, 2020 · emmanueloga_ on The Unison language
"Unison: a new distributed programming language" by Paul Chiusano [1]


This talk highlights the benefits and interesting features of Unison much better than the docs.

Highly recommended.

The video is from Sep 15, 2019 and still more useful than their website? Anyone have a transcript to link?
Sep 25, 2019 · 9 points, 3 comments · submitted by mpweiher
I was hoping to see a conversation here.
Yep this post went completely under the radar :-(
There's some discussion on proggit:

Sep 23, 2019 · 3 points, 0 comments · submitted by mpweiher
Sep 16, 2019 · 6 points, 0 comments · submitted by pfraze
Sep 16, 2019 · 4 points, 0 comments · submitted by truth_seeker
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