Facebook Employee: They’re weird, and smart as balls. For example, this guy right now is single-handedly rewriting, essentially, the entire site. Our site is coded, I’d say, 90% in PHP. All the front end — everything you see — is generated via a language called PHP. He is creating HPHP, Hyper-PHP, which means he’s literally rewriting the entire language. There’s this distinction in coding between a scripted language and a compiled language. PHP is an example of a scripted language. The computer or browser reads the program like a script, from top to bottom, and executes it in that order: anything you declare at the bottom cannot be referenced at the top. But with a compiled language, the program you write is compiled into an executable file. It doesn’t have to read the program from beginning to end in order to execute commands. It’s much faster that way. So this engineer is converting the site from one that runs on a scripted language to one that runs on a compiled language. However, if you went to go talk to him about basketball, you would probably have the most awkward conversation you’d have with a human being in your entire life. You just can’t talk to these people on a normal level. If you wanted to talk about basketball, talk about graph theory. Then he’d get it. And there’s a lot of people like that. But by golly, they can do their jobs.
Reblogged from Lachstock: The Pool Room: They’re weird and smart as balls. When I read this interview I had to wonder if the unnamed Facebook Employee wasn’t pulling the interviewer’s leg a little. Rebuilding a major web application in a compiled language is one thing (and may even be necessary to improve the performance of something as huge as Facebook), but rewriting PHP to do it? And calling it something as daft as “Hyper-PHP”? Sounds like either someone’s side-project has gone entirely off the rails and a manager needs to step in or the interviewee is talking, well, balls.