Listen in on Jane Street’s Ron Minsky as he has conversations with engineers who are working on everything from clock synchronization to reliable multicast, build systems to reconfigurable hardware. Get a peek at how Jane Street approaches problems, and how those ideas relate to tech more broadly. You can find transcripts along with related links on our website at signalsandthreads.com.
Building a UI Framework with Ty Overby
Writing, Technically with James Somers
1:00:58James Somers is Jane Street’s writer-in-residence, splitting his time between English and OCaml, and helping to push forward all sorts of efforts around knowledge-sharing at Jane Street. In this episode, James and Ron talk about the role of technical writing in an organization like Jane Street, and how engineering software relates to editing prose.You can find the transcript for this episode on our website.Some links to topics that came up in the discussion:mdx, the modified Markdown format that supports executing OCaml code blocksMore on the 4 types of technical writing that James referencesDonald Knuth’s original book on Literate ProgrammingMore on John McPhee’s use of KEDITPeter Seibel’s Coders at WorkDavid Goodsell’s The Machinery of LifeScott Huler’s Defining the WindSome of James’s writing on our tech blog
More Signals & Threads coming soon!
0:37Signals & Threads is back, and we have a fun season of topics lined up, including: Building better abstractions for design and user interfaces, the role of writing in a technical organization, the approach that different languages take to memory management...and more. We hope you’ll join us. The first episode drops September 1st.
An inside look at Jane Street's tech internship with Jeanne Van Briesen, Matt Else, and Grace Zhang
1:02:52In this week's episode, the season 1 finale, Ron speaks with Jeanne, Matt, and Grace, three former tech interns at Jane Street who have returned as full-timers. They talk about the experience of being an intern at Jane Street, the types of projects that interns work on, and how they've found the transition to full-time work.You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.
Building a functional email server with Dominick LoBraico
1:03:36Despite a steady trickle of newcomers, email still reigns supreme as the chief communication mechanism for the Information Age. At Jane Street, it’s just as critical as anywhere, but there’s one difference: the system at the heart of our email infrastructure is homegrown. This week, Ron talks to Dominick LoBraico, an engineer working on Jane Street’s technology infrastructure, about how and why we built Mailcore, an email server written and configured in OCaml. They delve into questions around how best to represent the configuration of a complex system, when you should build your own and when you shouldn’t, and the benefits of bringing a code-focused approach to solving systems problems.You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.
Language design with Leo White
1:07:59Equal parts science and art, programming language design is very much an unsolved problem. This week, Ron speaks with Leo White, from Jane Street's Tools & Compilers team, about cutting-edge language features, future work happening on OCaml, and Jane Street's relationship with the broader open-source community. The conversation covers everything from the paradox of language popularity, to advanced type system features like modular implicits and dependent types. Listen in, no programming languages PhD required!You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.
Clock synchronization with Chris Perl
44:28Clock synchronization, keeping all of the clocks on your network set to the “correct” time, sounds straightforward: our smartphones sure don’t seem to have trouble with it. Next, keep them all accurate to within 100 microseconds, and prove that you did -- now things start to get tricky. In this episode, Ron talks with Chris Perl, a systems engineer at Jane Street about the fundamental difficulty of solving this problem at scale and how we solved it.You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.
Python, OCaml, and Machine Learning with Laurent Mazare
59:33A conversation with Laurent Mazare about how your choice of programming language interacts with the kind of work you do, and in particular about the tradeoffs between Python and OCaml when doing machine learning and data analysis. Ron and Laurent discuss the tradeoffs between working in a text editor and a Jupyter Notebook, the importance of visualization and interactivity, how tools and practices vary between language ecosystems, and how language features like borrow-checking in Rust and ref-counting in Swift and Python can make machine learning easier.You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.
Compiler optimization with Greta Yorsh
1:10:17It’s a software engineer’s dream: A compiler that can take idiomatic high-level code and output maximally efficient instructions. Ron’s guest this week is Greta Yorsh, who has worked on just that problem in a career spanning both industry and academia. Ron and Greta talk about some of the tricks that compilers use to make our software faster, ranging from feedback-directed optimization and super-optimization to formal analysis.You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.
Multicast and the markets with Brian Nigito
1:02:09Electronic exchanges like Nasdaq need to handle a staggering number of transactions every second. To keep up, they rely on two deceptively simple-sounding concepts: single-threaded programs and multicast networking. In this episode, Ron speaks with Brian Nigito, a 20-year industry veteran who helped build some of the earliest electronic exchanges, about the tradeoffs that led to the architecture we have today, and how modern exchanges use these straightforward building blocks to achieve blindingly fast performance at scale.You can find the transcript for this episode along with links to things we discussed on our website.