Glenn Vanderburg’s talk at the conj is about implementing the TeX algorithms in Clojure. TeX is a typesetting engine, often used through LaTeX. TeX was written by Donald Knuth in order to typeset his opus The Art of Computer Programming.
If you’re interested in a good understanding of typesetting using TeX, you can’t do better than the TeXbook, written by Knuth himself. It’s an excellent guide to the TeX language and the underlying semantics. If you’d like to hear an interview with Knuth about why he decided to pause his life’s work to solve digital typesetting, watch this (and the following segments).
Why it matters
TeX is written in an imperative style with mutation and is difficult to understand. Other attempts have been made to re-implement the algorithms in a functional style. The work to re-implement typesetting in Clojure in a functional style can be instructive both of the specific algorithms and for imperative legacy systems in general.
About Glenn Vanderburg
Glenn Vanderburg gave one of my favorite talks about software engineering. It’s called Real Software Engineering.