Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ECOOP day 1

And so to the main conference. First of all I would like to brag that our paper was nominated for best paper, which is very flattering, unfortunately we didn't win, but at least we have something to aim for next year :-)

The day started (well, after the usual welcome chit chat) with an invited talk about transactions, that dialled the usual numbers about multicores and concurrency being the next big thing, and transactions being _the_ way to address the whole concurrency problem, and asked the question "are these transactions the same as we were talking about 30 years ago?"

Following this was my talk, which went swimmingly, although I was still a little rushed at the end, although I still managed to finish (almost) on time and earn myself a pear.

Unfortunately I was to drained emotionally to pay any attention to the nest talk, which is a shame because it looked really interesting and I will definitely be reading the paper - it was about mixing inheritance between languages.

Later, I attended the summer school talk on JavaCOP which was very interesting and really sold the concept. They basically implement pluggable types, a concept of which I am a very big fan, and allow you to add your own type systems to Java. I think it is defiantly worth looking at a bit closer and I will do this as soon as I have some time (which really means after my thesis is finished). In a nutshell: you write extra types as annotations to your Java code, and define a bunch of predicates that makes them all work and JavaCOP compiles it all into a class file which can then check the programs you annotated. It all seems like an interesting and practical idea with probably a never ending list of extra things that could be added.

I rounded off the day with another summer school talk, this time by Jonathan Aldritch on SASyLF - a proof assistant for students. This was a great session and we all had a go at making and running SASyLF proofs. It got me even more convinced that I must learn how to use one of these proof assistant things. There seemed two novelties with SASyLF: first that it is really aimed at the ECOOP (rather than POPL) crowd, and so has natively a lot of things that you waste a lot of time doing in other proof assistants; secondly, it is aimed at students, which means you have to spell everything out and can't tell it do as much as it can with guidance at any point. Most people seemed to regard this as a shame as they'd like to be able to use it since it is adapted to their needs. There was much talk of some kind of professor switch to make things quicker whilst still making students understand everything, but this seemed impractical from a security point of view. Anyway, it was all very cool!

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