I began working on bitvec shortly before I was told that my father had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. Developing the library gave me something into which to sink my attention and keep my mind from dwelling on his rapidly-progressing illness. I wrote the core pointer representation that enables bitvec’s modern behavior at his side, in the last days that he remained conscious.

I never had the chance to explain to my dad what I was building. By the time it was developed enough to be worth explaining, he had lost too much of his brain to understand me. More than anything I’ve done for my employers, bitvec is the work of which I’m most proud, and which I most wish he could have seen.

The Ferrilab project, and in particular bitvec, is dedicated to the memory of my father, George M. Payne, who inspired me to build quality work, supported my search for my talents, and taught me to labor for the benefit of others beyond myself.

—Alexander Payne (myrrlyn)