Spotlight: Senior Product Engineer James Haydon - Blog - artificial.

Spotlight: Senior Product Engineer James Haydon

Articles | Spotlight

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a Functional Programming enthusiast with a PhD in Mathematics from Oxford University. Outside of work I play with my daughter, or with my Nintendo switch once she’s finally in bed!

How did you get started at Artificial?

The initial hook was simply a job posting for a position that uses Haskell. But during the interview process there was talk of creating a system able to launch many different insurance products at once, possibly using a custom DSL (Domain Specific Language) or other configuration tool. This seemed super exciting, and then I got to meet all the team during two very fun days at a Haskell exchange.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

The DSL became a reality, and I enjoy working on new features for it. It’s fun to try and think how insurance concepts can be compressed and streamlined into an easy-to-use configuration language, and for most things to be automated if possible. For example we automate most of the frontend form generation, e.g. deciding exactly which pieces of data still need to be collected from the user given the data they’ve already provided, using an automated analysis of the premium rater models. Seeing complex products come to life on the frontend after just a few lines of configuration code still seems like magic.

How have you been keeping yourself busy over the past few months?

In the past few months we’ve been integrating some of the biggest workflow tasks into the backend, multi-cycle referrals, laying the groundwork for out-of-sequence endorsements, etc. We think we’ve come up with elegant solutions to a lot of the complexities that come with these features. I look forward to the launch of these new features so that we can see how well it all works together, including with the frontend.

Other than work, lockdown has made me pick up a few new games, I’m particularly enjoying Celeste.

What advances are you most excited about in your field?

Functional programming and Haskell in particular has come a long way since I started using it. Some of the more advanced features of the type system are becoming more useable with new updates. I’m particularly excited about Haskell possibly gaining “ergonomic dependent types” in the future, so that correct-by-construction programming becomes easier and more mainstream. In other words, I hate people finding bugs in my code!

Anna Burge

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