Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting Started with the F# PowerPack - Part 4

In this series, I'm walking you through various features provided by the F# PowerPack.

Here are the links to the previous posts:

- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3

In this post, I'll briefly talk about Lexing, Parsing, SI (Metric) Units of Measure, Physical Constants, and Native Array.

Lexing and Parsing:

The FsLex and FsYacc documentation provides a good overview of how to get started with the lexing and parsing functionality offered by the PowerPack. As mentioned in this documentation, Jomo Fisher's Parsed Language Parser Template provides a great place to start from a code point of view. Note: Lexing and Parsing currently require the F# PowerPack to be installed with the MSI rather than with just the NuGet package.

SI (Metric) Units of Measurement:

Units of Measure are available in F# out-of-the-box (see http://cvslab.di.unipi.it/vslab/blog/post/2011/09/05/Ammeter-interface.aspx for a recent example of this feature in use); however, the PowerPack contains several useful predefined units of measure. Chris Smith speaks of the F# PowerPack in his Programming F# book and SI units of measure is one of the highlighted features. Additionally, Andrew Kennedy has a great post on this topic: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/andrewkennedy/archive/2008/09/02/units-of-measure-in-f-part-two-unit-conversions.aspx.

Here's a list of the SI Units that are provided:

Meter (m), Kilogram (kg), Second (s), Ampere (A), Kelvin (K), Mole (mol), Candela (cd), Hertz (Hz), Newton (N), Pascal (Pa), Joule (J), Watt (W), Coulomb (C), Volt (V), Farad (F), Ohm (ohm), Siemens (S), Weber (Wb), Tesla (T), Henry (H), Lumen (lm), Lux (lx), Becquerel (Bq), Gray (Gy), Sievert (Sv), Katal (kat)


The PowerPack also comes with a few useful predefined physical constants.

Here's the full list (note: these are basically straight from the code comments):

- Speed of light in vacuum
- Magnetic constant
- Electric constant
- Newtonian constant of gravitation
- Planck constant
- Dirac constant (a.k.a. the reduced Planck constant)
- Elementary charge
- Magnetic flux quantum h/2e
- Conductance quantum
- Electron mass
- Proton mass
- Fine-structure constant
- Rydberg constant
- Avogadro constant
- Faraday constant
- Molar gas constant
- Boltzmann constant R/N_A
- Stefan-Boltzmann constant
- Electron volt
- Unified atomic mass unit


NativeArray.fs provides several modules and types that can be useful when doing native interop.

The NativeOps and Ref modules provide functions for pinning an object.

The types that are defined include PinnedArray, PinnedArray2, NativeArray, and FortranMatrix. There are a few examples of these types in use in the NativeArrayTests.fs file in the FSharp.PowerPack.Unittests project.

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