A special-interest group meeting during the ACM CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, CA on the topic of the usability of programming languages. People are invited to attend!
To attend you must be registered for the CHI'2016 conference, and early registration ends March 14:
For more information about the SIG, see:
Programming languages form the interface between programmers (the users) and the computation that they desire the computer to
Jean Yang & Ari Rabkin C is Manly, Python is for “n00bs”: How False Stereotypes Turn Into Technical “Truths”, Model-View-Culture, January 2015.
This is a bit of a change of pace from the usual technically-focused content on LtU, but it seemed like something that might be of interest to LtUers nonetheless. Yang and Rabkin discuss the cultural baggage that comes along with a variety of languages, and the impact it has on how those languages are perceived and used.
There are probably some interesting clues to how and why some languages are adopted while others fall into obscurity (a question that has come up here before). Also, the article includes references to a study conducted by Rabkin and LtU's own Leo Meyerovich.
We've mentioned some empirical studies of programming languages a few times, but I haven't seen a comprehensive list we can use as a reference.
Fortunately, I just came across this pretty decent overview of existing literature on how types impact development. Agree or disagree with Dan Luu's position, the comprehensive list warrants a front-page post in my opinion.
One point worth noting is that all the studies used relatively inexpressive languages with bland type systems, like C and Java, and compared those against typed equivalents. A future study ought to compare a more expressive language, like OCaml, Haskell or F#, which should I think would yield more pertinent data to this age-old debate.
Part of the benefits of types allegedly surround documentation to help refactoring without violating invariants. So another future study I'd like to see is one where participants develop a program meeting certain requirements in their language of choice. They will have as much time as needed to satisfy a correctness test suite. They should then be asked many months later to add a new feature to the program they developed. I expect that the maintenance effort required of a language is more important than the effort required of initial development, because programs change more often than they are written from scratch.
This could be a good thread on how to test the various beliefs surrounding statically typed and dynamically languages. If you have any studies that aren't mentioned above, or some ideas on what would make a good study, let's hear it!
Michael Greenberg, Kathleen Fisher, and David Walker, "Tracking the Flow of Ideas through the Programming Languages Literature", SNAPL 2015.
The authors have produced some really interesting visualizations of how the topic content of various conferences has evolved over time (it's interesting to note that OOPSLA isn't really about OO software development any more, and that PLDI appears to have seen an increasing emphasis on verification and test generation).
Also of potential interest to LtU readers: there is a prototype tool at http://tmpl.weaselhat.com/ that is based on the work presented in this paper. It allows you to upload a paper PDF, and will return the 10 most closely related papers according to the POPL/PLDI topic model. It could be a handy research tool. But, if nothing else, it's a fun way to see what else is related to a paper you're interested in.
Sergi Valverde and Ricard Solé, "Punctuated equilibrium in the large scale evolution of programming languages", SFI working paper 2014-09-030
The results developed here are perhaps not that surprising to people familiar with the history of programming languages. But it's interesting to see it all formalized and analyzed.
Eugenia Cheng's new popular coscience book is out, in the U.K. under the title Cakes, Custard and Category Theory: Easy recipes for understanding complex maths, and in the U.S. under the title How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics:
Cheng, one of the Catsters, gives a guided tour of mathematical thinking and research activities, and through the core philosophy underlying category theory. This is the kind of book you can give to your grandma and grandpa so they can boast to their friends what her grandchildren are doing (and bake you a nice dessert when you come and visit :) ). A pleasant weekend reading.
These are sad news indeed. I am sure almost everyone here read at least one paper by Paul and many knew him personally. When I just started thinking about programming languages I was fascinated by DSLs and his work was simply inspiring. His voice will be missed.
Update:There is some confusion about the situation. Please see the comments for further information.
I guess it is fairly obvious why professors should propose their students (the deadline is January 4th 2015). Newly minted PhD should, for similar reasons, make sure their professors are reminded of these reasons. I can tell you that the competition is going to be tough this year; but hey, you didn't go into programming language theory thinking it is going to be easy, did you?
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