Happy Birthday, dear Lambda

Believe it or not, Lambda the Ultimate is five years old! Wow.

If someone would have told me five years ago that LtU will be around that long, I'd call him crazy. I still remember trying to recruit new members and trying to spread the word. Today? The number of members increases daily, whether I like it or not...

It's gratifying to see that many of the original members are still active, and that many members have their own specific roles in our virtual community. It's great to see people's interests and voice evolve over time, as well as to welcome guests and more occasional visitors.

Since moving to the new site (thanks Anton!) the membership and readership have increased dramatically. A rapid increase of this kind can undermine the norms and culture of a community, but I think we are doing fine, thanks mainly to the tone set by the LtU regulars. From time to time we may slip and the tone gets a little harsh, but what can you expect when static typing is being discussed? Overall, I think we are handling the growth remarkably well, and the new members make the dicussion more interesting and diverse.

The discussion group has become much more active than it was in the past, due to the increased readership. This is a good thing, of course, but I hope the blog can keep up. Being extremely busy prevents me to contribute new stories as often as I want, but I was glad to see how many volunteered to become editors. Now all they have to do is start posting more often..

Thanks again, guys. LtU keeps surprising and informing me, and frankly, what more can you ask for?

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Yay ! Where's the cake ?

*Burp!* What cake?

I didn't see any cake... ;)

Happy Birthday dear LtU,
Happy Birthday to yoooou!

congrats and a suggestion

How about a forum specifically for newbies? I wish there was a forum like this for other topics...such as relational model/theory. Actually one could just look at a list of ACM SIGs as great candidates to have a forum such as this one (I think I'm repeating my self from a previous post :) ).

Newbies forum

How about a forum specifically for newbies?

Yes, we can do that. But I am not sure what's the advantage compare to what we have now. I assume most LtU readers will want to follow both forums, and I am sure we want all members to help newbies, and contribute to the newbie forum. So why not continue to have one forum for all kinds of threads?



We are strictly into PLT around here. Others SIGs will have to take care of themselves...

FWIW, my opinion...

...is to keep everything together. The thing I like about LtU is the mingling that occurs between those in the know and those in the dark (such as myself). Lotsa web resources exist where the topics and experts are much more focused (and stratified). Nice to have a place where there's a nice mix of PL topics and people of varying degrees of aptitude.

Some get the impression that LtU has a Lisp flavor, while others get the opposite impression. Same thing with Functional Programming - we're not really dedicated to FP, any more than say being dedicated to Declarative Programming. Just so happens that there are a number of people that are interested in specific paradigms - not to mention those that are interested in all the paradigms.

Sometimes I wonder if I'd be more intimidated had I come to LtU at a later stage. Coming in early on (IIRC, a couple of weeks after you started LtU), I tend to feel a sense of ownership. I'd hope that those who are wanting to learn about PL's could feel as comfortable as I do, even if they are not steeped in formality and language design issues. Along with Andrew Cooke, I think an early tone was set with the weblog that respected both those with a vast store of knowledge as well as those who are just curious.

Anyhow, I'd rather go the route of encouraging neophytes to share their ideas amongst the user population at large without fear of being castigated.


I also think that there needn't be a newbies forum. However, a "read this first" sticky post would be cool. Especially regarding the static vs dynamic bloodshed.

Getting Started thread

There's a getting started thread, linked to from the FAQ.

Everyone is welcome to add to it information that might be helpful to newcomers.

I tend to feel a sense of own

I tend to feel a sense of ownership.

You should. I didn't mention you and Andrew by name, since I do that every birthday, and I wanted to be more original this year, but I totally agree that an early tone was set with the weblog that respected both those with a vast store of knowledge as well as those who are just curious.

Like you, I want to keep it this way. The only problem is that as traffic increases this may become more difficult. When we set up a wiki, we can use it to create a persistent knowledge base for frequently discussed topics.


Many of the questions I want to ask seem so trivial that I expect other members to get annoyed...although so far I haven't seen anything but civility. The comment about other SIGs was not a request to extend LTU...but to gurus from other fields (who may visit here as well) to start their own versions of LTUs ;)

good job!

this site remains a beacon of hope on an Internet filled with just a little too much programming for the "Dilbert" crowd.

here's to another five years (and just as good a S/N ratio as the past five)

Old timers

This might be a good chance to invite long time members who for whatever reason have become less active on LtU to rejoin the conversation.

You know who you are... You know we wnat you back. What's keeping you away? ;-)


And best wishes!

5 years...wow...

5 years ago my son had just been born, and I'd started as a temp doing clerical work in a bank (before that I was a full-time student, trying and failing to complete a PhD in Eng Lit).

Now I'm a full-time programmer (which I'll absolve LtU of responsibility for, seeing as I started out coding in VB6...) and a fledgling PL theory geek, for which LtU is very considerably responsible. If it weren't for this site and its contributors, it's unlikely that I would have persevered with learning Haskell, read all those tutorials and papers on recursion and folds and fixpoints and monads, or even heard of CTM or TaPL - sorry, TaPL - let alone got to the point where I could read my way through either. (It's early chapters still with TaPL, but it's good stuff).

Smarter people than me think LtU is full of smarter people than them; and yet it's also accessible to the newbie and the wannabe, and provides opportunities for both to participate in a learning community that's managed to maintain high levels of intellectual curiosity and professional courtesy. That's cool. Long may it continue.

The big 5.0

Thanks for the time and resources involved in making this an ongoing concern.

Now if I could just find time to read all the interesting material I've come across on LtU over the past five years... Perhaps then I'd have time to be more prolific. :-)

And many more

happy \xy.x(x(x(x(xy)))) birthday, LtU

Here's hoping we stay cool and never hit _|_

(that about exhausts my repitoire, thank goodness)


I have to say this has become one of the sites I make it a point to visit. Everytime I visit I always learn something new.

I personally, started visiting about a year or so ago, maybe longer. I forget how I found out about it. But I'm in the processing of trying to learn functional programming and it's techniques and unlearn some of the programming that has been drilled into me since high school.


Look what we got...

From Fritz: Our very own birthday card!

One more to say "congrats"

I found LtU in its first days and got seriously impressed with the quality of the discussions. At the time almost everything went over my head, but I kept reading.

And I believe the site has something to do with my career changes, because it was here (following discussions and links to papers) that I first realized how beautiful the theory of programming languages really is. And that's why I read regularly, though rarely taking part in discussion.

So, congratulations to everyone that makes this site so good, and here's to more years of high SNR ratios :)

More praise...

I guess this thread is probably long enough already... But I just wanted to say that I, like so many others, consider LtU one of my very favorite web sites and discussion groups.

I very casually follow blogs and web sites focussed on a number of other disciplines, and I consistently see people from other fields trying to figure out how to foster a really in-depth and ongoing dialog including both academics and interested laypeople, or how to encourage the research community to follow and discuss one another's work in a fruitful way. In almost every case, it seems like what they want is something like LtU.

Why this is so rare, I don't know... I'm not sure whether there's just something unique about the PL community, or what. But the fact that researchers can reasonably hope that an in-depth discussion will follow the publication of an interesting paper or book is apparently pretty rare and special.

I know we devolve into ugly bickering from time to time, but over the years, I think we've actually made some real progress understanding and framing (and re-framing...) some of the fundamental questions that divide us, and honestly, that's a pretty big deal.

This really is a special web site, and an ongoing example of what so many other communities are still sorely lacking. Thanks to all of you who continue to make it happen...

I'll second that

I'd just like to second Matt's comments. I have yet to come across an online community similar to LtU's in any other academic discipline that I've spent time looking into. The closest I've seen is a few discipline specific mailing lists - but even those either have a very poor signal-to-noise ratio compared to LtU, or they have devolved into being just a series of calls-for-papers.

LtU really is a special place. I stumbled across it purely by accident several months ago. But since then I've visited regularly, and have found that my interest in PLT has increased exponentially over that time. So thanks to everyone for making this place as informative and interesting as it is.