Thursday, 10 January 2008

POPL day 1

The day started off with a very slick invited lecture by Walter Fontana on systems biology. [It was preceded by Phil Wadler suffering a "Janet Jackson moment": he tried to rip open his top to reveal his lambda-superman T-shirt, only for the zip to get stuck!] He made the interesting observation that the key notions that enabled modern chemistry can be seen as rules, instances and event. His assertion was that the same features were enabling systems biology. He also discussed the use of various abstract interpretation techniques. One example is in "pathway discovery". All in, a very nice lecture.

The talk by Aydemir et al was very interesting - in particular I liked their locally nameless representation of terms and cofinite quantification of free variable names. This is very slick.

Iulian Neamtiu gave a beautiful talk of a new "contextual" effect system that allows better timing of updates for dynamic update systems. I wish we had thought of this when we were developing our DSU stuff!

There followed a couple of really nice talks providing (operational) semantics for languages with transactions: one by Moore/Grossman and one by Abadi et al. Both seemed entirely reasonable - I think a sign of them representing the right choice rather than the problem being easy! The two approaches made quite different assumptions but I had the feeling that their essence was related.

The session after lunch was on separation logic. I'm biased - but Matt did a really great job presenting our paper! Christina David also presented her work very clearly. [This work, whilst completely independent, makes very similar contributions to ours: primarily, the use of static and dynamic specifications for methods.] James Brotherston wrapped up the session with his recent application of his cyclic proof structures to separation logic. This stuff gets more attractive the more I hear it - I'll have to read his thesis...

The excitment of getting a network connection meant that I skipped the final session to catch up with email and natter with various people.

The day wrapped up with me, Peter, Christian and Matt eating obscenely large steaks and washing it down with an agreeable Zinfandel at Alfred's Steakhouse.

No comments: