General

ACM Sigplan Outstanding Dissertation Award

I got the following from Susan Eisenbach. I know several LtU regulars who should definitely be in the short list for this award! Please note the January 3rd deadline and make sure you (or your students) are nominated. As noted in the announcement, earning awards such as these can have significant and positive effects on ones career.

I would like to draw your attention to the Sigplan Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. If you are either a recent PhD graduate or a supervisor of such a graduate can I suggest you consider applying? Obtaining such an award makes a person stand out when applying for academic positions.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

Presented annually to the author of the outstanding doctoral dissertation in the area of Programming Languages. The award includes a prize of $1,000. The winner can choose to receive the award at ICFP, OOPSLA, POPL, or PLDI.

Selection Committee The chair of the selection committee is a member of the EC appointed by the SIGPLAN chair. Other committee members are selected by the chair of the selection committee with approval of the SIGPLAN chair. The SIGPLAN Chair is an ex officio member of the committee and shall adjudicate conflicts of interest, appointing substitutes to the committee as necessary.

Nominations Nominations must be submitted to the secretary of SIGPLAN by January 3rd to be considered for that year's award. The nominated dissertation must be available in an English language version to facilitate evaluation by the selection committee.
A nomination should consist of the following items:
• Name, address, phone number, and email address of the person making the nomination (the nominator).
• Name, address, phone number, and email address of the candidate for whom an award is recommended (the nominee).
• A short statement (200-500 words) explaining why the nominee deserves the award in question.
• Supporting statements from up to two people in addition to the nominator.

Rob Pike on Go at Google

Not a lot here on Go at Google really. Mostly a general overview of the language, whose major selling point seems to be that it was designed by famous people and is in use at Google.

Milner Symposium 2012

The Milner Symposium 2012 was held in Edinburgh this April in memory of the late Robin Milner.

The Milner Symposium is a celebration of the life and work of one of the world's greatest computer scientists, Robin Milner. The symposium will feature leading researchers whose work is inspired by Robin Milner.

The programme consisted of academic talks by colleagues and past students. The talks and slides are available online.

I particularly liked the interleaving of the personal and human narrative underlying the scientific journey. A particularly good example is Joachim Parrow's talk on the origins of the pi calculus. Of particular interest to LtU members is the panel on the future of functional programming languages, consisting of Phil Wadler, Xavier Leroy, David MacQueen, Martin Odersky, Simon Peyton-Jones, and Don Syme.

Strange Loop 2012 Video Schedule

The schedule is here.

ACM A.M. Turing Centenary Celebration

ACM A.M. Turing Centenary Celebration

33 ACM A.M. Turing Award Winners came together for the first time, to honor the 100th Anniversary of Alan Turing and reflect on his contributions, as well as on the past and future of computing. The event has now taken place—but everyone can join the conversation, #ACMTuring100, and view the webcast.

This event totally flew under my radar! Many thanks to Scott Wallace for pointing it out.

Parsing: The Solved Problem That Isn't

In the blog post Parsing: The Solved Problem That Isn't Laurence Tratt discusses some interesting unsolved practical problems with parsing especially in combining grammars

The general consensus, therefore, is that parsing is a solved problem. If you've got a parsing problem for synthetic languages, one of the existing tools should do the job. [...]

One of the things that's become increasingly obvious to me over the past few years is that the general consensus breaks down for one vital emerging trend: language composition. "Composition" is one of those long, complicated, but often vague terms that crops up a lot in theoretical work. Fortunately, for our purposes it means something simple: grammar composition, which is where we add one grammar to another and have the combined grammar parse text in the new language (exactly the sort of thing we want to do with Domain Specific Languages (DSLs)). To use a classic example, imagine that we wish to extend a Java-like language with SQL [...]

He goes on to mention several example problems:

  • Two LL or LR grammars may combine to produce a grammar that is neither.
  • Two unambiguous grammars may combine to produce an ambiguous grammar.
  • Two PEG grammars may combine to produce something that doesn't do what you want due to left bias.

What's the current state of the art?

Language mystery: identify the source language to a worm based on its object code

Here's a fun challenge for LtU. The team at Securelist is analyzing a worm called Duqu and found a few interesting things. One of them is that they can't figure out the source language for the core framework.

After having performed countless hours of analysis, we are 100% confident that the Duqu Framework was not programmed with Visual C++. It is possible that its authors used an in-house framework to generate intermediary C code, or they used another completely different programming language.

We would like to make an appeal to the programming community and ask anyone who recognizes the framework, toolkit or the programming language that can generate similar code constructions, to contact us or drop us a comment in this blogpost. We are confident that with your help we can solve this deep mystery in the Duqu story.

I'm not clear on how much knowing the source language helps with the security analysis, but what else were you doing with your time? All the details and clues in the object file can be found on their blog.

Informed dissent: William Cook contra Bob Harper on OOP

Ongoing discussion that you can follow on William Cook's blog.

I am not going to take sides (or keep points). I know everyone here has an opinion on the issue, and many of the arguments were discussed here over the years. I still think LtU-ers will want to follow this.

Given the nature of the topic, I remind everyone to review our policies before posting here on the issue.

Announcing Lang.NEXT - A Free Event for PL Designers and Implementers Hosted By Microsoft

The event is held at the Microsoft Campus on Apr 2-4 with talks, panels and discussions from 9-5 every day. Attendance is free, and includes lunch. Details here.

When Formal Systems Kill: Computer Ethics and Formal Methods

While ethics aren't normal LtU fare, it's sometimes interesting to see how our technical discussions fit into a larger picture.

In When Formal Systems Kill: Computer Ethics and Formal Methods February, 2012, Darren Abramson and Lee Pike make the case that the ubiquity of computing in safety critical systems and systems that can create real economic harm means that formal methods should not just be technical and economic discussions but ethical ones as well.

Computers are different from all other artifacts in that they are automatic formal systems. Since computers are automatic formal systems,techniques called formal methods can be used to help ensure their safety. First, we call upon practitioners of computer ethics to deliberate over when the application of formal methods to computing systems is a moral obligation. To support this deliberation, we provide a primer of the subfield of computer science called formal methods for non-specialists. Second, we give a few arguments in favor of bringing discussions of formal methods into the fold of computer ethics.

They also spend a good amount of time giving a lay overview of the practical, economic challenges faced by formal methods.

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