ILC2002 Proceedings and Videos

The proceedings of the International Lisp Conference 2002 are now freely available for download here. A selection of video-recorded talks are also downloadable (currently the Robocup ones). ILC2002 was previously covered on LtU in a great report from Oleg.

An interactive historical roster of computer languages

A very interesting site dedicated to the history of programming languages.

The navigation is a bit clunky, and I am still not sure I understand all the features of the site, but the database is impressive (use the "search" button on the right hand side of the window to open the search frame).

The site includes amusing statistics (e.g., which decade produced the most programming languages?)

It would be interesting to see what LtU readers think about the taxonomy used here. It's quite fine-grained.

Open-sourcing Java

Should Sun open-source Java? "The Big Question" keynote debate at JavaOne in San Francisco was devoted to this question.

Now, I don't really know what open-sourcing a language means, but this is obviously an important question...

The Java language specification and the JVM spec are both public. The Sun JVM isn't open source, but there are many other Java VMs out there.

The community process is controlled by Sun, but then again some process must exist if you want the language to remain cohesive, and someone or some group will have to control this process.

So it seems that this is ultimately about community dynamics. Languages create communities. Communities shape the way languages evolve.


LtU friends are readers who have us on their blogrolls are encouraged to change the URL to point to our new location.


We are not the only ones doing it...

The Secure Coding mailing list is having field day arguing about Marcus Ranum's ACM Queue article, Security: The root of the problem.

Normally, I wouldn't link to this thread since it isn't specifically about programming languages.

However, programming languages are being mentioned, and static analysis tools discussed (esp. SPARK). Moreover, I think the dynamics of the debate are quite similar to the dynamics of the ongoing (and eternal) debate in the discussion group regarding static typing. Perhaps, seeing this sort of quicksand action hapenning in a different context can help us learn how to focus PL-related debates and make them more productive.

Note: I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade. In fact, I think LtU is better than most other forums when it comes to this kind of debate. But non-productive debates on these issues are a common problem in PL discussions.

XsRQL (and other RQLs)

The RDF Data Access Working Group is busy doing a survey of query languages and access techniques that have been used with RDF. Many resemble SQL in syntax, despite operating on a graph. Amongst the WG's Design Evaluations Links there's a recent submission of a different style from Howard Katz : XQuery-style RDF Query Language (XsRQL), which actually looks very procedural (like XQuery).

Types in CMUCL

CMU Common Lisp's compiler, known as Python, has a sophisticated implementation of Common Lisp's powerful type system. The system primarily enforces type safety at runtime, but it also performs static type inference. The static type information is used to detect type errors, eliminate unnecessary runtime type checks, and select efficient primitive code (e.g. avoid excessively generic arithmetic).

CMUCL's history stretches back around twenty years, though I believe the compiler was rewritten "just" 15 odd years ago. The system is still widely used, notably by ITA software as publicised by Paul Graham.

A soft-typing system for Erlang

Sven-Olof Nyström presented his Soft-typing system for Erlang at the 2003 ACM Erlang Workshop. I haven't tried it, but I thought it looked promising. His conclusions are thought-provoking too.

Mono 1.0 Ships

Mono 1.0 has been released, following a speedy set of beta releases. The detailed release notes are interesting. Mono is also being used to build Nemerle a "functional .NET language compiler".

Attribute-Oriented Programming with Java 1.5

From Peeking Inside the Box.

An interesting look at the addition of annotations to the next generation Java. Not sure what the main purpose of this metadata is, but the author discusses it in terms of debugging and instrumentation.

Annotation definitions look a lot like interface definitions, but the keyword @interface is used instead of interface and only methods are supported (though they act more like fields).

   public @interface Status {
       String value();

I can now define my method as follows:

   @Status("Connecting to database")
   public void connectToDB (String url) {