Tuesday, 8 July 2008


I'm currently in Paphos, Cyprus attending ECOOP'08 and its associated workshops and symposia.

Firstly, it's an amazing venue. It's a nice hotel with several pools, beaches, and weather to match! Indeed, it's a pretty outrageous place for a conference. Normally the choice is between the talks and a natter with someone. Here the natter can be poolside, or you can just go poolside without the natter. It's a tough call. I've tried to be good and attend the talks I intended to, but I haven't exactly managed it (sorry Dino!).

There's been some interesting stuff so far. Susanne Cech Previtali gave an great talk about DSU and aspects - possibly the first time I could see a real argument for aspects! She had some very interesting case study data - I plan to steal some of it for my talk on Thursday. I also listened to Rich Hickey talk about his Clojure language. It's a lisp-like functional language for the JVM - so much like MLj (although I don't think he knows about that work), but it had some interesting features: primarily persistant data structures and support for concurrency. I don't quite understand how the immutability works in Clojure - esp. given the Java interop - but it seems worth chasing up.

I also went to Laurence Tratt's talk on programming languages. His point was that language designers need to think out of the box more and learn from other languages. That's kind of obvious, but the problem (not addressed) is that it's very easy to think you understand the essence of a feature by programming with it. Often language designers don't understand what they're doing - that's why we have so many, and that why many of them die.

The problem with Tratt's talk is that he didn't really seem to understand the area terribly well. Moreover, some of his conclusions were questionable (his criticism of checked exceptions was that people often put empty catch blocks.) I was tempted to ask him about my idea of licensing language designers (you only get a license if you have a PL PhD and can do all the exercises in Benli's book :-)).

In a little while I'm off to Dan Ingall's talk on Sun's Lively stuff, which I'm looking forward to.

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