Get GOing

Yes, I finished the Advent of Code this year! Aside from the problems being easier (for me) than 2019, I'm also using Go for this year's challenge and I find it to be particularly suited for this type of endeavor.

This year's puzzles mostly involve string parsing and finding efficient data structures. Majority of the logic flow are pretty straight forward and there's little need for sophisticated algorithms.

For string parsing, regex, which Go has built-in support for, is definitely the way to go. The abundance of parsing related problems means using only basic string manipulation could be rather painful, and I've definitely seen my share of horrible blobs of find/substr/trim.

Most of the time, slices and maps are all I needed. Go has multiple return values but no tuples, whose usage, I find, is largely replaced by either arrays or structs. Versatility of these data structures are actually increased due to the language's encouragement to use constants instead of enums: storing all information as ints opens up the door to some shortcuts and less conversion between types. Surely they don't give you the peace of mind type checked enums provide, but (ab)using them in short programs does provide the odd walking-on-a-knife-edge (or not-wearing-pants-during-Zoom-call) kind of satisfaction.

Imperative programs are easy to write in Go, mostly because of the language's plain and simple control flows and lack of mixed paradigms. There's no need to worry about whether we should use an STL algorithm or chained iterator methods: just write the loop. Reasonable mutability behaviors also helps: whether it's changing a map while looping through it or passing a struct containing a slice to another function, I can get the language to do what I mean without checking the specification line by line.

There's the ZOI rule about how the only reasonable numbers are zero, one, and infinity. Quite a few other languages I know, such as Python, C++, and Rust, all seem to hinge on the extreme ends of the spectrum in pursuit of consistency: everything follows the same rules and users can dictate what the syntax means as much as the base language. Go definitely has more exceptions (without supporting it) and "one" moments: built-in containers are magically generic, their methods can have variable number of return values, and everything else is denied the privilege of being eligible to be iterated over.

While just a quick comparison without touching other traits of Go (say interfaces or goroutines, but you don't really need them for Advent of Code), I do find Go's choices peculiar and interesting: everything is, well, just its own thing.


No comments yet.