Hiring guide for Magma Engineers

Magma Developer Hiring Guide

Magma is a robust computer algebra system designed for solving complex problems in algebra, number theory, geometry, and combinatorics. It was developed by the Computational Algebra Group at the University of Sydney in 1993. Magma provides a mathematically rigorous environment for defining and working with structures such as graphs, groups, and matrices. Its comprehensive library of pre-defined functions allows for efficient problem-solving across various mathematical disciplines. The Magma system is recognized globally as a leading tool for research in pure mathematics and its applications.

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

First 20 minutes

General Magma app knowledge and experience

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

How would you describe the basic structure of a Magma script?
A Magma script is composed of a series of commands, each of which is terminated by a semicolon. It can include variable declarations, function definitions, and control flow statements.
What are the main data types used in Magma?
The main data types used in Magma include integers, reals, complexes, rationals, polynomials, matrices, finite fields, and algebraic number fields.
Describe the difference between a function and a procedure in Magma.
A function in Magma is a block of code that returns a value, while a procedure is a block of code that performs an action but does not return a value.
How would you define a function in Magma?
A function in Magma is defined using the 'function' keyword, followed by the function name, parameters in parentheses, and the function body enclosed in curly braces.
What are the control flow statements in Magma?
The control flow statements in Magma include 'if', 'else', 'while', 'for', 'repeat', 'until', and 'return'.
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What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate have a strong understanding of Magma?
How well does the applicant communicate?
Is the candidate able to solve problems quickly and efficiently?
Has the candidate demonstrated a capacity to learn new skills?

Next 20 minutes

Specific Magma 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.

Describe the difference between 'while' and 'for' loops in Magma.
'While' loops in Magma execute a block of code as long as a specified condition is true. 'For' loops, on the other hand, execute a block of code a specified number of times.
How would you handle exceptions in Magma?
Exceptions in Magma can be handled using the 'try' and 'catch' statements. The 'try' block contains the code that may throw an exception, and the 'catch' block contains the code to execute if an exception is thrown.
What are the main features of Magma's type system?
Magma's type system is strongly typed and supports both built-in and user-defined types. It also supports type checking and type inference.
Describe the difference between 'intrinsic' and 'user-defined' functions in Magma.
'Intrinsic' functions in Magma are built-in functions provided by the language, while 'user-defined' functions are functions created by the user.
How would you create a user-defined type in Magma?
A user-defined type in Magma can be created using the 'declare type' statement, followed by the type name and its properties.
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The ideal back-end app developer

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

At this point, a skilled Magma engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in Magma 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 Magma.

What does the following Magma code do?
R := PolynomialRing(IntegerRing());
S := R.1^2 + 2*R.1 + 1;
This code is factoring a polynomial. The PolynomialRing function creates a polynomial ring over the integers. The polynomial S is defined as x^2 + 2x + 1. The Factorization function factors the polynomial S into its irreducible factors over the integers.
What will be the output of the following Magma code?
G := SymmetricGroup(4);
This code is creating the symmetric group of degree 4 and then computing its order. The output will be 24, as the order of the symmetric group of degree n is n factorial.
What does the following Magma code do?
A := [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
B := [x^2 : x in A];
This code creates an array A of integers, then creates a new array B where each element is the square of the corresponding element in A. The output will be the array B, which is [1, 4, 9, 16, 25].
What does the following Magma code do?
procedure MyProcedure(~A, n)
for i in [1..n] do
A[i] := Random(1, 10);
end for;
end procedure;
A := [0 : i in [1..10]];
MyProcedure(~A, 10);
This code defines a procedure that populates an array with random integers between 1 and 10. It then creates an array A of ten zeros and calls the procedure on A. The output will be the array A with its elements replaced by random integers.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for Magma 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 Magma application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

What are the main features of Magma's module system?
Magma's module system allows for the organization of code into separate modules, each of which can be imported and used in other modules. It supports both built-in and user-defined modules.
Describe the difference between 'import' and 'load' in Magma.
'Import' in Magma is used to bring in a module and its functions into the current scope, while 'load' is used to execute a Magma script from a file.
How would you implement polymorphism in Magma?
Polymorphism in Magma can be implemented using user-defined types and functions. A function can be defined to accept parameters of a user-defined type, and different versions of the function can be defined for different types.

Magma application related

Product Perfect's Magma development capabilities

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