Mark Tarver

Welcome to the home page of Dr Mark Tarver. This a portal from where you can access my science work, philosophy and poetry. If you want to know about me as a person, then read my unreliable biography.

Hermetics is a term that covers all sorts of diverse knowledge; including occultism, philosophy and internal alchemy. More of my time these days is spent in these subjects. Internal alchemy is concerned with restoring the mind-body harmony and halting or even reversing the aging process. Under the Hermetics section you can listen to a recorded talk given by me about alchemy. This lecture was delivered in 2003 at Stony Brook University in New York State (sorry about the sound quality, old technology).

Some of the material here is in audio/video form; you'll see a @ next to the link.

Taoism, Alchemy and Immortality: @ this was a lecture on internal alchemy and longevity given at Stony Brook University in 2003. Old recording with poor sound but audible.

Conversations of Taoist Master Fu Hsiang: a short dialogue of ten parts on a Taoist perspective on evil, love and the soul.

The Shen of Shen: a series of aphorisms derived from Taoism and martial arts on programming as an art.

School of Internal Alchemy; a nascent vehicle for my current work in teaching.

I was active in writing poetry between 1993-1996. This was about the time that I started losing interest in the academic life as I later recorded in Why I am not a Professor. In 2009 and 2010 I experimented with putting two of these poems to music and video. I also put several to audio only with static pictures. I'd like to do more sometime. I plan to put more links here soon.

The video poems owe much to the genius of the late John Barry.

Video Poem: Playing Truant @
Video Poem: the Sacrifice @

Logic &
Essays on
Education &

I studied philosophical logic, metaphysics and epistemology at Oxford and my Ph.D. was in philosophical logic. Finding myself without work when I graduated in Thatcher's Britain, I became a programmer and from there migrated into computer science. I wrote an essay about my development as a computer scientist and programmer in Hackers and Fighters. (with apologies to Paul Graham)

The work for which I am known is in functional programming which culminated in the programming language Shen. There is a Shen language website you can visit which details that language. Shen is open source under BSD though there is a commercial version under continuous development. Probably the most concise summary of Shen is in this appeal of 2013 @. The Shen News Group exists for Shen and we have 500 subscribers.

There is also a Shen under Twitter and a Shen wiki run by good people. Being of the old fart generation, I actually don't contribute much to these, but don't let that stop you.

If you're really keen on learning Shen then The Book of Shen (third edition) is the canonical text.

If you're masochistic enough to delve into the history of this research, Shen was a portable development of a predecessor language Qi which is described in this invited talk of 2008, Lisp for the C21 (.wmv file) @. There was also this talk which predated Shen - The Next Lisp.

The was an old web site for Qi was Lambda Associates which exists on the Shen site as an archive,

During the brief Indian summer of my time as a lecturer, I taught discrete mathematics at Stony Brook to first year computer science students. My notes eventually shaped themselves into a text Logic, Proof and Computation.

The Bipolar Lisp Programmer: this was an essay which came from my experience as a lecturer of watching brilliant students fail. I've been scolded on the use of 'bipolar' in this article. If you Google this title you'll find an extended discussion.

Why I am not a Professor: this was my equivalent to Robert Graves Goodbye to All That which he described as his "bitter leave-taking of England". This was my bitter leave-taking of academia; the tone is deservedly bleak. If you Google this you'll find discussion too.

In Defence of Open Science: this was prompted by a deletionist removal of my work from Wikipedia. I didn't put my stuff on Wikipedia, but the resulting bizarre discussion prompted me to write this piece.

The next four were my take on the absurdities of the open source movement.

The Problems of Open Source (2014): this was penned in 2007 and was the beginning of my disfavour in open source circles. It was revised in 2014 to discuss crowd-funding. The article became recommended reading on some university courses.

A Reply to 'The Problems of Open Source': this was the only intelligent response to the above.

Open Source is Ceasing to be Cool (2016): a less academic and certainly not polite review on open source which compared it to a corpse.

7 Reasons Why I do not Support the FSF: a review of the hypocrisies of the Free Software Foundation.