Help John Baez and Mike Stay!

John Baez and Mike Stay are working on a book chapter titled "Categories in Physics, Topology, Logic and Computation: a Rosetta Stone." They previously asked for some help with the logic section, and now they're looking for help with the computation section:

But now I really need comments from anyone who likes categories and theoretical computer science!

In fact, the final 'computation' section of the paper is still very rough. It introduces combinators but doesn’t really explain them well yet... and perhaps worse, it doesn’t say anything about the lambda calculus!

I plan to fix some of these deficiencies in the next week. But, I figure it’s best to get comments and criticism now, while there’s still time to take it into account.

This is already a great introductory paper, but the computation section is indeed quite rough. Obviously comments are welcome, but even if you don't have anything to add, the first sections are sure to be enjoyable for many LtU readers. The paper does not assume any background in category theory, logic or physics and manages to be an excellent introduction to the surprising connections between these fields. If you have some background, it's a very quick and fun read, and if you can offer feedback, so much the better!

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Would it be appropriate for me to ask for help on my papers on the front page of I feel that the answer would be a resounding no. It seems to me that it is unfair to promote some of these kinds of requests to the LtU front page rather than others. I think many people would like the kind of publicity and help that this can generate for them. This is especially true when we start to go the absolute fringes of topics related to programming languages.

Just my two cents

The way I see it

It would be inappropriate for you to post on the home page asking for help on your own papers because in general editors are expected not to post about their own work (with few exceptions, such as guest blogging). However, if another editor independently thought that some of your design questions, or paper discussions, over own your own personal site, are of enough interest to post a link to them from the home page, it would be entirely legitimate. Things like that happened from time to time in the past.

In general, it is safe to assume that LtU readers that are interested in what you (or any other editor) discuss on your own sites are already reading them. So before posting to the home page about work of this kind I usually ask myself whether the interest in the LtU community likely exceeds the group of people already familiar with the blog/site/papers of the contributor.

My 2 cents

Adding to what Ehud said you can usually discuss particular aspects in the threads, so if you're interested in, say effect systems for concurrent languages, you can post a topic about someone else's research in this are and a follow-up in the thread with your ideas and questions. Of course the post must be relevant on it's own.

There are other places where such discussion is on topic, recently I asked a research related question on the types forum and the responses were great, so perhaps you can find other places to ask some questions on unclear issues and post (on LtU) papers about other aspects that are more clear and use the thread to discuss the paper's ideas and possible extensions/relation to other works.

How about labelling it, and leaving it in the forum

How about if I post requests for comments on programming language papers to the forum w/o promoting to the front page. With a label like "[RFC]" (Request for comments)?

Maybe I framed it poorly?

I think this is an interesting and worthwhile draft paper. We often post drafts and preprints on LtU, and in many cases there is an explicit "feedback solicited" angle as well. Perhaps I should not have emphasized the "help wanted" and simply mentioned it as a nice paper.

And anyway, I don't feel that this is on the absolute fringes at all! While the paper definitely highlights some fringe connections, the sections on logic and computation, at least, are directly on topic and are not even particularly theoretical. Plus, John Baez's work has been discussed here a number of times. In any case, the fact that we have a Category Theory department indicates to me that this type of stuff is fair game.

In summary, I apologize if my post had too much of a "help wanted" flavor, and I apologize if it doesn't interest you. However, I remain convinced that this is a nice paper and will be of interest to many LtU readers.

Incidentally, I tentatively predict that PLT will develop a more topological flavor in the coming years. (Not to imply, of course, that there is no topology in PLT today.)

I think his question was genuine

<meta>I don't think Christopher's question was facetious -- I think he genuinely wanted to know whether it would be okay for him to post about drafts of his papers.</meta>

Hello Matt

I don't mean to level any criticism at you personally. I think that you acted in good faith, and you pointed out there is indeed a precedent for this kind of posting. I have done some reflection on the issue and I realize that the most appropriate way for me to respond is to simply continue posting papers that I feel are more relevant. I guess that it what makes this place work so well, everyone contributes. No hard feelings, I hope.

None at all!

None at all!

New version of Baez and Stay's "Rosetta Stone" (final draft?)

John Baez and Mike Stay have released a new version of Physics, topology, logic and computation: a Rosetta Stone, which now covers the language presented in Simon Ambler's First Order Linear Logic and Symmetric Monoidal Closed Categories. The book is nearing completion, so they (understandably) would love to learn of any errors now; please, add your comments to the announcement page.