I am going to be learning Ruby, Haskell and Prolog at university.
Now, I'm wondering what should get most of my attention. I have half a year to do all three, which means I need to decide on one language to get my extracurricular time. The others I will learn just enough to do very good in the course.
I am familiar enough with Haskell and Prolog to know that learning them will teach me a few very important concepts of computer science. I'm not so sure about ruby.
Going through a few tutorials and introductions, I get the impression that ruby is a lot of shallow magic. Now I'm asking the ruby people: What will I have gained, should I decide never to use it again, after I've spent half a year learning it, that Python didn't already teach me.
This question is not intended to "make the case" for ruby, although I realise this is a potential topic of great argumentation.
I use Python for all my CS work now. I have done quite a bit of functional programming with it as well. I am also, already, quite familiar with object oriented programming (in Java, Python and C#). And I shall, as I said, do some Logical programming with Prolog.
What then is left for Ruby to teach me?
To further dilute the question:
I'm not interested in writing fun
programs, or cool web applications.
I'm just interested in the Computer
Science bits. Implementing algorithms, data structures and so on. (Although having fun surely won't hurt)
Ideally, concepts discussed need to be learnable in about 1.000 hours.
I'm not at all interested in Rails. Any technology that hides complexity is, in this case, detrimental.
I can't help this question being argumentative. But an ideal answer to this question will mention a profoundly important concept of theoretical computer science that ruby helps the programmer use and understand in order to gain scientifically adjuvant knowledge.
To candidates I came up with are Meta-programming and Multi-threading. I don't know if ruby is particularly great to learn either of them.
Being marketable is not a requirement. I'll worry about that after i've got my degrees.
I really don't have any time to learn yet another language. Learning Ruby, Haskell and Prolog is required of me, not a choice. And I want to do the best job I can.
For the most part, nothing. Most of Ruby's strengths/weaknesses are the same as Python's, except that Ruby is slightly more "functional". However if you have Haskell as an option, much more can be learned about functional programming from Haskell than from Ruby.
Second, if you're looking at things from a theoretical computer science perspective, then Ruby is far from a language of choice. Ruby and a lot of its libraries break a lot of standard OOP dogma which I believe many academics would find repulsive (this is based mainly on my chats about languages with various professors).
From an academic perspective I think Haskell would have the most appeal to you. If you're interested in AI or logic, then Prolog is also an excellent choice.