Inside the Wolfram Language

Video of Stephen Wolfram showing off the Wolfram Language and sharing his perspective on the design of the language at Strange Loop conference.

What's in store for the most widely used language by discerning hackers?

Or, in other words, what's the future of Emacs Lisp (and unavoidable HN discussion).

The original message contains some interesting tidbits. I am not sure how the discussion on emacs-devel will develop. But speculating about things such as Guile elisp is, of course, our bailiwick.

Apple Introduces Swift

Apple today announced a new programming language for their next version of Mac OS X and iOS called Swift.

The Language Guide has more details about the potpourri of language features.

How I Came to Write D

Walter Bright recounts how he came to write D

The path that led Walter Bright to write a language, now among the top 20 most used, began with curiosity — and an insult.

Facebook Introduces ‘Hack,’ the Programming Language of the Future

From Wired, Facebook Introduces ‘Hack,’ the Programming Language of the Future

You can think of Hack as a new version of PHP. It too runs on the Hip Hop Virtual Machine, but it lets coders use both dynamic typing and static typing. This is what’s called gradual typing, and until now, it has mostly been an academic exercise. Facebook, O’Sullivan says, is the first to bring gradual typing to a “real, industrial strength” language.

Hack is open source and is available at It supports type annotation, generics, lambdas and host of other features on top of PHP.

Call for Participation: Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop

Alan Schmitt just posted an invitation to participate in this event which will take place at POPL. I think anyone who can attend should.

MOOC: Paradigms of Computer Programming

The Université catholique de Louvain has joined the edX consortium this year, and as part of edX Peter Van Roy is preparing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Paradigms of Computer Programming starting next February.

As you'd expect the course uses the CTM book and is based on the course Peter has been teaching, it will thus present a multi-paradigm approach to programming and include non-traditional computational models such as the deterministic dataflow model for concurrent programming.

I wonder who will end up signing up for this course. I think the option of auditing might appeal to folks who found CTM interesting but are way beyond the category of beginning programmers for whom the course is officially designed.

John C. Reynolds Doctoral Dissertation Award (SIGPLAN)

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.

Nominations must be submitted to the secretary of SIGPLAN by January 5th 2014 to be considered for this year's award. The nominated dissertation must be available in an English language version to facilitate evaluation by the selection committee and have been awarded in the year 2013.

I know of some outstanding dissertations. I am sure you do to. So why not nominate them for this honor (for further details see here)?

On the history of the question of whether natural language is “illogical”

A nice essay from Barbara Partee on the origins of formal semantics of natural languages and Montague Grammar.

Not directly programming language material, the topic is likely to interest many here. I think several interesting previous discussions related to Montague can be found by searching the archives.

John C. Reynolds, 1935-2013

Randy Bryant, dean of the school of computer science at CMU, sent out an email saying that John C. Reynolds passed away yesterday.

Subject: In Memoriam. John Reynolds, June 1, 1935 - April 28, 2013
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2013 21:45:12 -0400
From: Randy Bryant

I'm sorry to announce that John Reynolds, a long-time member of our computer science faculty, passed away early this morning. Many of you know that John had been in declining health recently. We were able to celebrate his retirement him last summer. He had a heart attack last week and went downhill over a period of several days.

John got his PhD in 1961 in theoretical physics, but while working at Argonne National Laboratory came to realize that his passion was for computation. He became a very successful computer scientists, focusing on the logical foundations of programs and programming languages. He was at Syracuse University from 1970 to 1986 and then joined the CSD faculty.

John has made many important contributions over his career. Interestingly, his 2002 work on separation logic, done jointly with Peter O'Hearn and others, has been especially prominent. Separation logic provides a formal way to reason about what we might think of as "normal programs," i.e., ones that operate by changing the values stored in memory, but where memory is partitioned into independent blocks, and so we can reason about different program components independently. I can only hope that the work I do at age 67 would be counted among my best!

We will also remember John for this cheerful spirit, his high ethical standards, and his deep intellect. He will very much be missed.

Randy Bryant

It's probably impossible to overstate the impact that John had on the field of programming languages. But beyond being a great scholar, he was also a generous mentor and a fundamentally decent and kind human being. He will indeed very much be missed.

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