Hiring guide for Edinburgh SML Engineers

Edinburgh SML Developer Hiring Guide

Edinburgh SML, also known as Standard ML (SML), is a general-purpose modular functional programming language. It was developed at the University of Edinburgh in the early 1980s and has been widely used in academia and industry since then. The language is known for its strong static typing system, which helps prevent many common errors during program execution. Standard ML supports advanced features such as pattern matching, first-class functions, polymorphism and type inference. It also provides facilities for exception handling and concurrent programming. One of the unique aspects about this language is that it comes with a formal specification - "The Definition of Standard ML" - providing an unambiguous description of its syntax and semantics to ensure consistency across different implementations. While not as popular or mainstream compared to other languages like Python or Java, SML continues to be influential especially in research related to type systems and compiler construction.

Ask the right questions secure the right Edinburgh SML talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General Edinburgh SML app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in Edinburgh SML application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

What are the basic data types in Edinburgh SML?
The basic data types in Edinburgh SML include integers, real numbers, characters, strings, and booleans.
How would you define a function in Edinburgh SML?
A function in Edinburgh SML is defined using the 'fun' keyword followed by the function name, parameters, and the function body. For example, 'fun add x y = x + y' defines a function that adds two numbers.
Describe the difference between 'let' and 'val' in Edinburgh SML.
'val' is used to bind a value to a variable, while 'let' is used to create a new scope. The variables defined in a 'let' block are only accessible within that block.
What is the significance of pattern matching in Edinburgh SML?
Pattern matching is a powerful feature in Edinburgh SML that allows you to check and destructure data in a single operation. It is commonly used in function definitions and case expressions.
How would you handle exceptions in Edinburgh SML?
Exceptions in Edinburgh SML are handled using the 'handle' keyword. You can define different handlers for different types of exceptions.
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What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate have a strong understanding of SML syntax and semantics?
Can the candidate solve complex problems using SML?
Does the candidate have experience with functional programming paradigms?
Is the candidate able to debug and optimize SML code?

Next 20 minutes

Specific Edinburgh SML development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

What are the uses of tuples in Edinburgh SML?
Tuples in Edinburgh SML are used to store multiple values of possibly different types. They are useful when you want to return multiple values from a function.
How would you implement recursion in Edinburgh SML?
Recursion in Edinburgh SML is implemented by having a function call itself. The key to implementing recursion is to have a base case that stops the recursion.
Describe the difference between 'andalso' and 'orelse' in Edinburgh SML.
'andalso' and 'orelse' are logical operators in Edinburgh SML. 'andalso' returns true if both operands are true, while 'orelse' returns true if at least one of the operands is true.
What is the purpose of the 'datatype' keyword in Edinburgh SML?
The 'datatype' keyword in Edinburgh SML is used to define new data types. This is useful when you want to create complex data structures like lists and trees.
How would you use higher-order functions in Edinburgh SML?
Higher-order functions in Edinburgh SML are functions that take other functions as arguments or return functions as results. They are used to create more abstract and reusable code.
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The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the Edinburgh SML engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled Edinburgh SML engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in Edinburgh SML programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with Edinburgh SML.

What does the following SML code do?
fun factorial 0 = 1 | factorial n = n * factorial (n - 1);
This code defines a recursive function to calculate the factorial of a number. If the input is 0, it returns 1. Otherwise, it multiplies the input number by the factorial of the number subtracted by 1.
What will be the output of the following SML code?
val list1 = [1,2,3,4,5];
val list2 = List.take (list1, 3);
The output will be a list [1,2,3]. The List.take function is used to get the first n elements from a list. In this case, it takes the first 3 elements from list1.
What does the following SML code do?
fun sumList [] = 0 | sumList (h::t) = h + sumList t;
This code defines a recursive function to calculate the sum of all elements in a list. If the list is empty, it returns 0. Otherwise, it adds the head of the list to the sum of the rest of the list.
What does the following SML code do?
datatype 'a tree = Empty | Node of 'a * 'a tree * 'a tree;
fun depth Empty = 0 | depth (Node (_, left, right)) = 1 + Int.max (depth left, depth right);
This code defines a binary tree data structure and a function to calculate the depth of the tree. The depth function returns 0 for an empty tree. For a non-empty tree, it returns 1 plus the maximum depth of the left and right subtrees.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for Edinburgh SML Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle Edinburgh SML application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

Describe the difference between eager and lazy evaluation in Edinburgh SML.
Eager evaluation means that expressions are evaluated as soon as they are bound to a variable, while lazy evaluation means that expressions are evaluated only when their value is needed. Edinburgh SML uses eager evaluation.
What are the uses of modules in Edinburgh SML?
Modules in Edinburgh SML are used to group related definitions together. They provide a way to organize code and control the visibility of definitions.
How would you implement polymorphism in Edinburgh SML?
Polymorphism in Edinburgh SML is implemented using type variables. A function is polymorphic if it can take arguments of many types.

Edinburgh SML application related

Product Perfect's Edinburgh SML development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your Edinburgh SML engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in Edinburgh SML projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.