22.4.15

 

Prime Minister of Singapore plans to learn Haskell


The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, plans to learn Haskell.
My children are in IT, two of them – both graduated from MIT. One of them browsed a book and said, “Here, read this”. It said “Haskell – learn you a Haskell for great good”, and one day that will be my retirement reading.
Spotted by Jeremy Yallop.

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20.4.15

 

Multiple inheritance, revisited

Via @ReifyReflect (Sam Lindley) and @PedalKings. Previously: Multiple inheritance.

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16.4.15

 

A complement to blame



A complement to blame
Philip Wadler.
SNAPL, May 2015.

Contracts, gradual typing, and hybrid typing all permit less-precisely typed and more-precisely typed code to interact. Blame calculus encompasses these, and guarantees blame safety: blame for type errors always lays with less-precisely typed code. This paper serves as a complement to the literature on blame calculus: it elaborates on motivation, comments on the reception of the work, critiques some work for not properly attending to blame, and looks forward to applications. No knowledge of contracts, gradual typing, hybrid typing, or blame calculus is assumed.

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Blame and Coercion:Together Again for the First Time


Blame and Coercion:Together Again for the First Time
Jeremy Siek, Peter Thiemann, Philip Wadler.
PLDI, June 2015.

C#, Dart, Pyret, Racket, TypeScript, VB: many recent languages integrate dynamic and static types via gradual typing. We systematically develop three calculi for gradual typing and the relations between them, building on and strengthening previous work. The calculi are: λB, based on the blame calculus of Wadler and Findler (2009); λC, inspired by the coercion calculus of Henglein (1994); λS inspired by the space-efficient calculus of Herman, Tomb, and Flanagan (2006) and the threesome calculus of Siek and Wadler (2010). While λB is little changed from previous work, λC and λS are new. Together, λB, λC, and λS provide a coherent foundation for design, implementation, and optimisation of gradual types.

We define translations from λB to λC and from λC to λS. Much previous work lacked proofs of correctness or had weak correctness criteria; here we demonstrate the strongest correctness criterion one could hope for, that each of the translations is fully abstract. Each of the calculi reinforces the design of the others: λC has a particularly simple definition, and the subtle definition of blame safety for λB is justified by the simple definition of blame safety for λC. Our calculus λS is implementation-ready: the first space-efficient calculus that is both straightforward to implement and easy to understand. We give two applications: first, using full abstraction from λC to λS to validate the challenging part of full abstraction between λB and λC; and, second, using full abstraction from λB to λS to easily establish the Fundamental Property of Casts, which required a custom bisimulation and six lemmas in earlier work.

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14.4.15

 

Codes that changed the world

Aleks Krotoski tackles programming languages in BBC Radio 4's Codes that Changed the World. The five episodes comprise: Fortran, Cobol, Basic, Java, and The Tower of Babel. Functional programming and Haskell are singled out for special attention in the final programme, which includes a interview with Haskell developer Elise Huard; online is a clip of interview with Simon Peyton Jones that did not make it on air.


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4.4.15

 

Toolkits for the Mind

An article on programming languages aimed at a general readership, from MIT Technical Review. Spotted by De Lesley Hutchins.
When the Japanese computer scientist Yukihiro Matsumoto decided to create Ruby, a programming language that has helped build Twitter, Hulu, and much of the modern Web, he was chasing an idea from a 1966 science fiction novel called Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany. At the book’s heart is an invented language of the same name that upgrades the minds of all those who speak it. “Babel-17 is such an exact analytical language, it almost assures you technical mastery of any situation you look at,” the protagonist says at one point. With Ruby, Matsumoto wanted the same thing: to reprogram and improve the way programmers think....When I meet Yaron Minsky, Jane Street’s head of technology, he’s sitting at a desk with a working Enigma machine beside him, one of only a few dozen of the World War II code devices left in the world. I would think it the clear winner of the contest for Coolest Secret Weapon in the Room if it weren’t for the way he keeps talking about an obscure programming language called OCaml. Minsky, a computer science PhD, convinced his employer 10 years ago to rewrite the company’s entire trading system in OCaml.

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1.4.15

 

Pension cuts - respond to USS


The UCU has lain down its placards and ended the strike to avoid cuts to pensions. Our one remaining hope is for members to make their outrage known in the USS consultation exercise, which ends 22 May 2015. I hope everyone with a USS pension will respond. Suggested responses from UCU Left and UCU are linked; please comment below, especially to list other suggested responses.

Universities UK argue that the reductions are necessary to avoid a deficit, but their claim has been widely criticised. A group of prominent statisticians point out Universities UK inflated the deficit by assuming a buoyant economy when predicting future salaries but assuming a recession when predicting investment returns.

In 2011, Universities UK imposed vastly reduced pensions on new hires. Old hires who pay into the pension fund for forty years receive a pension of one-half their final salary; new hires who do the same receive a pension of one-half their average salary. Basing pensions on average rather than final salary may be sensible, but to do so with no little or no adjustment in multiplier suggests employers used this as an excuse to slip in a large cut; new hires receive about 2/3 the benefits received by old hires. All staff also suffered other cuts to pensions: additional caps and less good adjustment for inflation. At the time, it was predicted that within a few years old hires would be moved to the inferior scheme for new hires, and that is what has now come to pass.

Like many in USS, employees and employers alike, I am concerned that the changes will make UK academia a less attractive option for potential scholars.



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20.3.15

 

Status Report 4


It seemed as if no time had passed: the anaesthetist injected my spine, and next thing I knew I was waking in recovery.  Keyhole surgery to remove my left kidney was completed on Tuesday 17 March, and I expect to leave the Western General on Saturday 21 March. Meanwhile, progress on diagnosing the amyloid spotted in my liver: I had a bone marrow biopsy on Thursday 19 March, and two days of testing at the National Amyloidosis Centre in London are to be scheduled. NHS has provided excellent care all around.

My room was well placed for watching the partial eclipse this morning. A nurse with a syringe helped me jury rig a crude pinhole camera (below), but it was too crude. Fortunately, there was exactly the right amount of cloud cover through which to view the crescent sun. My fellow patients and our nurses all gathered together, and for five minutes it was party time on the ward.

Update: I left the hospital as planned on Saturday 21 March. Thanks to Guido, Sam, Shabana, Stephen, and Jonathan for visits; to Marjorie for soup; to Sukkat Shalom council for a card and to Gillian for hand delivery; and to Maurice for taking me in while my family was away.

Related: Status report, Status report 2, A paean to the Western General, Status report 3.


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8.3.15

 

Multiple inheritance

Retweeted by Don Syme.

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6.3.15

 

Petraeus won't serve a day in jail for his leaks. Edward Snowden shouldn't either.


Trevor Timm in the Guardian argues that David Petraeus' crimes, inspired by adultery, are more serious than Edward Snowden's, inspired by liberty.

The sweetheart deal the Justice Department gave to former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking top secret information compared to the stiff jail sentences other low-level leakers have received under the Obama administration has led to renewed calls for leniency for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And no one makes the case better than famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Ellsberg, the first person ever charged under the Espionage Act or any other statute for leaking the Pentagon Papers to Congress and seventeen newspapers, told me on Thursday: “The factual charges against [Edward Snowden] are not more serious, as violations of the classification regulations and non-disclosure agreements, than those Petraeus has admitted to, which are actually quite spectacular.”

It’s hard to overstate the shocking nature of the government’s case against Petraeus. The information that he gave Paula Broadwell, his friendly biographer with whom he was then having an extramarital affair, was among the most sensitive in the US government. According to the indictment, Petraeus gave Broadwell eight black books containing “classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings … and [his personal] discussions with the president of the United States.”

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5.3.15

 

Status Report 3



I have a date for keyhole surgery to remove my kidney: Tuesday 17 March. This fits what I was told previously, so all is to schedule. Recovery time is likely to be four weeks. I expect to be in hospital until Monday 23 March: visitors most welcome! Please call the Western General, or Level 4 office has my contact details.

My liver biopsy took place on Thursday 19 February; the hardest part was to lie still for six hours after. I had meetings with my infectious disease doctor on Wednesday 25 February and with my cardiologist on Monday 2 March. My endocarditis is clear, but will need to be monitored once a year. The biopsy shows a deposit of amyloid protein; experts are being consulted, but it has no effect on my surgery. My thanks to all my doctors and the staff at the Western General, who have been excellent.


Related: Status report, Status report 2, A paean to the Western General, Status report 4.

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An Open Letter to John Swinney



Dear John Swinney,

I sat in the gallery yesterday to watch the debate on Privacy and the State. As a member of the Open Rights Group, I have a keen interest in the subject.

The Identity Management and Privacy Principles, published in October 2014 with your name on the foreword, states in Section 4.6:
If a public service organisation needs to link personal information from different systems and databases (internally or between organisations), it should avoid sharing persistent identifiers; other mechanisms, such as matching, should be considered.
Willie Rennie and Patrick Harvie drew attention to the proposal that stakeholders should share the Unique Citizen Reference Number (UCRN). Using the UCRN as a key would link multiple databases, in effect forming a super-database, which is what concerns those who object to the plan. In your closing speech, Harvie intervened to ask you to acknowledge that the proposal breaches the Scottish Government's own guidelines. You responded:
I do not believe that the proposal breaches the data privacy principles that we set out.
Time was short, so you said no more, but I invite you now to elaborate on your bald denial. The proposal certainly appears to contravene the principle  advocated by your own document---how can you claim it does not?

It is not only your own guidelines which question your plan. The British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners have raised concerns about sharing information collected by the NHS with HMRC, and the UK Information Commissioner has warned that the proposal may breach European and British data protection laws. Both these criticism were raised during the debate, but ignored by you---I invite you to answer them as well.

There are ways forward that meet the needs of government and citizens that are far less problematic. I welcome your offer to review the proposals, and I hope that in light of these criticisms the Scottish Government will rethink its plans.

Yours,

Philip Wadler
Professor of Theoretical Computer Science
School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh

Related:

Minutes of the debate on Privacy and the State

Identity Management and Privacy Principles

Report of the debate from BBC News

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3.3.15

 

Philosophers


This may come in handy next time I need to lecture on Russell's Paradox. From SMBC.

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Watchdog says plan for super-database could create national ID number for every Scot

The Herald Scotland  has got the message. Let's hope Holyrood does as well.
Watchdog: SNP plan for super-database could create national ID number for every Scot.

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9.2.15

 

Say no to a Scottish national ID system

The Scottish government has opened for consultation plans of that would lead to database sharing among a vast range of organisations, and could lead to the introduction of de facto ID cards via the back door. Responses to the consultation are due by 25 February 2015. ORG Scotland writes:

A minor, barely noticed consultation is not the way to make a major change to Scottish citizens’ privacy and their relationship with the state. Creating a national ID register was rejected by the SNP and the UK, and the bare minimum should be for the Scottish Executive to introduce primary legislation whereby the public and MSPs can debate the nature of these changes and whether they are acceptable.

Respond to the consultation quickly, courtesy of ORG.

ORG is planning meetings to discuss how we can stop the Scottish Government's plans in EdinburghGlasgow and Aberdeen, and is tracking developments in their blog.

Here is the original consultation,  and a detailed response by ORG.

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6.2.15

 

A paean to the Western General


I resided in Ward 42 of the Regional Infectious Disease Unit of Edinburgh's Western General Hospital from 17 Dec—2 Jan. For most of the time I received antibiotic by drip or injection every four hours, day and night, and I thought my stay would be six weeks. Fortunately, my infection reacted well to antibiotic and I could be released early for outpatient treatment.

The building is ugly, but the people inside it are beautiful. I cannot recall another time or place where everyone was so unfailingly helpful and friendly. On the first day, a nurse found a staff member willing to lend me a charger when my phone ran down. The doctors took as much time as needed to answer my questions. The nurses were cheerful despite constant interruptions. The men who brought the coffee remembered that I liked it with milk, and one often asked after my twins (he had twins as well). No one objected when my daughter brought me a poster of the Justice League and I blue-tacked to my wall; several admired it.

Most often, I interact with institutions where the people who help you are, clearly, in it for the pay. They are nice only to the extent required by their job, and often less than that. Part of the difference in attitude here must be that the people know they are actively helping patients in need. I take my hat off to an institution that inculcates a caring attitude in everyone.

(Picture above courtesy of The Edinburgh Sketcher, whose pictures adorn a couple of corridors in the Western General. The RIDU is a different building, though somehow every building in the complex contrives to be equally unattractive.)

Related: Status report, Status report 2.

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Status Report 2



An update to my status. My doctors continue to monitor my heart infection, but it appears cleared up, along with the problems in my abdomen.

I met with my urologist on 4 Feb. My latest CAT scan (27 Jan) shows a small mass in my liver and that the tumour on my left kidney has not grown. The mass is unlikely to be a metastasis of the tumour, but the first order of business is to biopsy my liver; this should happen in the next two weeks, and it may take a further two weeks to get the results. Meanwhile, I am on the waiting list for keyhole surgery to remove my left kidney; this should happen in about six weeks. (Hospitals are fined £1000 if it takes more than four weeks, but the Western General currently has thirty people over that limit.) Recovery time is about four weeks. So, with luck, back to work in ten weeks, mid-April.

All four kidney surgeons at the Western General are in the top 10% in the country, so I am in good hands. If keyhole surgery converts to ordinary surgery the recovery time is three months; this happens in 4% of cases. My doctor says it is unlikely to happen to me because, compared to most of his patients, I am young, fit, and slim. Not words I usually hear applied to myself!

Previously: Status report, A paean to the Western General.

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29.1.15

 

Status report

I am off work this semester, being treated for two things: an infection affecting my heart and abdomen; and a tumour on my kidney. I was in hospital 17 Dec—2 Jan, and self-administered antibiotics as an outpatient 3 Jan—29 Jan. The photo shows me partway through self-administration, which required 90 minutes each day.

The infection of my heart and abdomen appears cured, and I am feeling much better. I am awaiting an appointment with urology. It is likely the kidney will need to be removed. The tumour, I am told, is too small to have metastasised. I will have better information once I meet my urologist, but my current guess is that I will be back at work sometime in March.

My thanks to the NHS and to the Western General Hospital for the excellent treatment I have received, and to all my colleagues for their support.

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20.1.15

 

Democracy vs the 1%


To celebrate the 750th anniversary of the first meeting of the British parliament, the BBC Today programme sponsored a special edition of The Public Philosopher, asking the question Why Democracy? The programme spent much time wondering why folk felt disenfranchised but spent barely two minutes on the question of how wealth distorts politics. (Three cheers to Shirley Williams for raising the issue.) An odd contrast, if you compare it to yesterday's story that the wealthiest 1% now own as much as the other 99% combined; or to Lawrence Lessig's Mayday campaign to stop politicians slanting their votes to what will help fund their reelection; or to Thomas Picketty's analysis of why the wealthy inevitably get wealthier. (tl;dr: "Piketty's thesis has been shorthanded as r > g: that the rate of return on capital today -- and through most of history -- has been higher than general economic growth. This means that simply having money is the best way to get more money.")

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19.1.15

 

My email is a monster


My New Year's resolution is to look at my e-mail at most once a day. If you need a response in less than a day or two, please arrange it with me in advance or use a different medium. Cartoon courtesy of Oatmeal.

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10.1.15

 

Are the Greens or UKIP a major party? Have your say.

Ofcom has issued a draft ruling that the Greens are not a 'major party' but that UKIP is. Hard to justify, one might think, given that Carolyn Lucas has been a sitting MP since September 2008, while UKIP did not acquire its first MP until a by-election in October 2014. One consequence of Ofcom's decision is that the Greens may be shut out of any televised national election debates, while Farage is given a seat.

It's a draft ruling, and there is still time to have your say.
My own response to Ofcom is below.

Question 1: Please provide your views on:
a) the evidence of current support laid out in Annex 2, and
b) whether there is any other relevant evidence which you consider Ofcom should take into
account for the purposes of the 2015 review of the list of major parties:

The Green Party has had a sitting MP since September 2008, while UKIP has only had a sitting MP since October 2014. This relevant point appears nowhere in the annex.

Question 2: Do you agree with our assessment in relation to each of:
a) The existing major parties,
b) Traditional Unionist Voice in Northern Ireland,
c) The Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party), and
d) UKIP?
Please provide reasons for your views:

It is a scandal to include UKIP as a major party while excluding the Greens. Either both should be included, or both excluded. I would prefer to see both included.

While UKIP enjoys stronger support than the Greens in current opinion polls, this is a shortlived phenomenon in part driven by the increased coverage recently given to UKIP by news media. Ofcom's role should be to dampen the effect of media focus on the current bandwagon, not to amplify it.

Ofcom should ensure that all serious contenders have an opportunity to make their views heard. The cutoff for being a 'serious contender' should sit at support from around 5% of the electorate.

Question 3: Do you agree with the proposed amendment to Rule 9 of the PPRB Rules Procedures outlined in paragraph 3.7 above? Please provide reasons for your views:

I do not agree with the proposed amendment. It is stated the parties 'might'' raise unsustainable complaints, but no evidence is provided that this is a serious problem. It is more democratic to leave the decision to the Election Commission than to give Ofcom the ability to refuse complaints without any right of appeal.

[I note also that the reference on the web form to 'paragraph 3.7 above' is confusing. Not only does the relevant paragraph not appear on the web page with the question, the web page does not even contain a link to the document containing the paragraph.] 

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Joe Sacco: On Satire

Joe Sacco is my favourite graphic-novel journalist. All of us deplore the attack on Charlie Hebdo, but his response is the most thoughtful analysis I've seen.

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6.1.15

 

A contrary view to 'Antidotes to the Imitation Game'

For five years, Barry Cooper has run the Alan Turing Year (ATY) mailing list, tracking worldwide activity related to the Turing Centennial and after. If you want a contrast to the view given by Antidotes to The Imitation Game, see Barry's most recent ATY post.

While I agree that fiction can sometimes can closer to truth than nonfiction, I disagree with Barry's claim that the 'higher-order' interpretation of the film accurately captures the arc of Turing's life. I suspect the real Turing differs hugely from the film's version, despite the effort and skill Tyldum, Cumberbatch, and others invested in the film.

Many computing scientists are disappointed by the divergence from history in The Imitation Game, while others think that if it does well at the Academy Awards that the popularisation of Turing will be good for our profession. There is something to be said for both points.

Hollywood's attempts at biography seems to inevitably involve gross oversimplification or distortion. Is this really necessary for a film to succeed? Does anyone have favourite examples of films that did not grossly distort their subject matter?

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2.1.15

 

Antidotes to The Imitation Game


I was so disappointed by the treatment of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game that I devoted a standup routine to it. "The film begins: 'Based on a true story'. Now I know what that means: 'Contains characters with the same names as real people'. Preferably dead, so they can't sue for defamation."

The following articles, better than I could, debunk the treatment meted out to Alan Turing by the film. If you see the film, give them a look as well.

  A Poor Imitation of Alan Turing
  Christian Caryl, New York Review of Books

  The Imitation Game: inventing a new slander to insult Alan Turing
  Alex von Tunzelmann, The Guardian

  The Imitation Game is strangely shy about Alan Turing’s sexuality
  Catherine Shoard, The Guardian

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31.12.14

 

Thank You, 40+ Years Later

I received an unusual email this week.
Dear Dr. Wadler,
I hope I have located the correct Philip Wadler. The person I'm looking for went to Cupertino High School. If that's not you, please tell me of my error. If you did go to Cupertino High School, please read on.
In late 1973, you gave me a booklet entitled "My Computer Understands Me* (*when I speak in BASIC)". This booklet was the starting point for transforming me (very quickly) from a student who was really good at math but didn't know what he wanted to do, into a guy who was sure he wanted to work with computers. That became my career, and it worked out pretty well. Thank You.
With Best Wishes,
Jeff Tindle
CHS Class of 1975

And here's my response.
Jeff,
Yes, you've found the right Wadler. I'm lucky to have an unusual last name, it makes me easy to locate.
Thank you for your note, which made my day. It's a significant part of my career to turn young people onto computing, but I had no idea I had started so early. What are you doing now? I assume you've found my web page, which will give you an idea of what I am up to.
I would like to post your note to my blog, if I may have your permission?
Yours, -- P
It's not often we get a chance to make a difference. How nice to learn after so many years that, whether by insight or luck or a combination of the two, I helped someone.

[The image is the cover of Ted Nelson's Computer Lib/Dream Machines, one of my favourite books from those days. The Computer Lib section aimed to liberate users from the priesthood of programmers by teaching them how to do it themselves, and as I recall covered four programming languages, including Basic. The Dream Machines section introduced Xanadu, a vision of a hyperlinked networked computer system long predating the Internet or the Web.]

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10.12.14

 

How to save US

A short, inventively presented, video from Lawrence Lessig, making the case that before we can solve all the other problems in the US, the first problem we must solve is to take big money out of politics, and how we can do it via Mayday.

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SNAPL update

SNAPL, taking place 3-6 May in Asilomar, now has a publisher. Proceedings will appear in the LIPIcs series published by Dagstuhl. Five pages in ACM style is about eight pages in LIPIcs style, so the SNAPL call for papers has changed the paper length accordingly.

Previously: SNAPL.

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5.12.14

 

Functional Programming is the New Black

Reading the conclusion of my friend Maurice Naftalin's new book on Java 8 brought home to me the extent to which Functional Programming is, indeed, the new black. You can read it here.

Maurice Naftalin, Mastering Lambdas (Conclusion), McGraw-Hill, 2014.

Other links: Java 8 Lambda FAQ, Mastering Lambdas.

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29.11.14

 

Propositions as Types, with Howard on Curry-Howard

Propositions as Types has been updated, again. Thanks again to all the readers and reviewers who helped me improve the paper. This version includes an appendix, Howard on Curry-Howard, including additional correspondence with Howard not previously published.

Propositions as Types
Philip Wadler
Draft, 29 November 2014
The principle of Propositions as Types links logic to computation. At first sight it appears to be a simple coincidence---almost a pun---but it turns out to be remarkably robust, inspiring the design of theorem provers and programming languages, and continuing to influence the forefronts of computing. Propositions as Types has many names and many origins, and is a notion with depth, breadth, and mystery.
Comments still solicited!

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27.11.14

 

Feminist Hacker Barbie, Functional Programmer

Feminist Hacker Barbie knows her monads. Spotted via Boing Boing.

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24.11.14

 

Towards Independence

As an experiment, I have created a separate blog for political posts: Towards Independence.

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21.11.14

 

Bright Club


Tuesday 25 November at The Stand Comedy Club, I will be part of the line up at Bright Club, speaking on the subject of 'Turingery'. Bright Club is stand-up by academics---we are trained professionals; don't try this at home! Doors open 7:30pm, show starts 8:30pm. The Stand is at 5 York Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EB. Tickets £5 at the door or online.

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19.11.14

 

CITIZENFOUR showing in Edinburgh

CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras's documentary on Edward Snowden, sold out for its two showings in Edinburgh. The movie is rated five-stars by the Guardian ("Gripping"), and four-stars by the Independent ("Extraordinary"), the Financial Times ("True-life spy thriller"), the Observer ("Utterly engrossing"), and the Telegraph ("Everybody needs to see it").

Kickstarter-like, OurScreen will arrange to show a film if enough people sign up to see it. I've scheduled a showing:

Cameo Edinburgh, 12 noon, Tuesday 2 December 2015
cost: £6.80 Book tickets from OurScreen.

If 34 people sign up by Sunday 23 November, then the showing will go ahead.

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10.11.14

 

Save our Universities


An open letter to my MSPs. Support and suggestions for how to carry
this forward as a campaign are solicited.

Dear Gavin Brown, Sarah Boyack, Alison Johnstone, Kezia Dugdale,
Cameron Buchanan and Neil Findlay,

I write to ask your help to preserve a secure future for Scottish
Universities.

Academics for all UK universities, including those in Scotland, have
faced falling wages and falling pensions over many years.  "The real
wages of academics have fallen by 13% since 2008, one of the largest
sustained wage cuts any profession has suffered since the Second World
War." So wrote Will Hutton in the Guardian, October 2013 [1].

In 2011, Universities UK imposed vastly reduced pensions on new
hires. Old hires who pay into the pension fund for forty years receive
a pension of one-half their final salary; new hires who do the same
receive a pension of one-half their average salary. Basing pensions on
average rather than final salary may be sensible, but to do so with no
adjustment in multiplier suggests employers are using this as an
excuse to slip in a large cut; it means new hires receive about 2/3
the benefits received by old hires. All staff also suffered other cuts
to pensions: additional caps and less good adjustment for inflation.
At the time, it was predicted that within a few years old hires would
be moved to the inferior scheme for new hires, and that is what has
now come to pass. [2]

Universities UK argue that the reductions are necessary to avoid a
deficit, but their claim has been widely criticised. Notably, a group
of prominent statisticians point out Universities UK inflated the
deficit by assuming a buoyant economy when predicting future salaries
but assuming a recession when predicting investment returns. [3]

A strong university system is one of the jewels in the crown of the
UK, and particularly for Scotland.  That excellence is a huge driver
of innovation and growth. If Scotland reduces its investment in
universities, it won't be long before we feel that loss throughout the
economy. [4,5]

Scotland has a University system second to none, and to keep it strong
we need pay and pensions that attract and retain the best minds
throughout the world.  We must have a system that is fair to both: old
hires must retain attractive conditions; new hires must have the bad
deal imposed on them in 2011 rolled back. Speaking as an old hire, I'd
settle for a small cut in pension if it meant bringing new hires onto
the same level: we must keep the system strong for the future.

The UCU has gone on strike over the issue (suspension of assessment,
which it hopes will minimise disruption for students). But UCU is
unlikely to succeed without political support.

I write to ask you, as my representative in the Scottish parliament,
will you direct the Scottish Funding Council to make fair treatment
for academics in Scottish Universities, both new hires and old, a top
priority?

Thank you for your consideration. Yours,

-- Philip Wadler
Professor of Theoretical Computer Science
School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh


[1] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/13/england-leave-funding-universities-students
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/nov/23/oxbridge-pensions-academics-protest-united
[3] http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/oct/29/marking-boycott-why-are-academics-protesting-about-pensions
[4] http://www.universities-scotland.ac.uk/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=156&cntnt01returnid=23
[5] Royal Society of Edinburgh, Enlightening the Constitutional Debate, Science and Higher Education, p177--198,
    http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/events/reports/2013-2014/The%20Book.pdf

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9.10.14

 

SNAPL


SNAPL will take place 3-6 May 2015 at Asilomar.
SNAPL provides a biennial venue to focus on big-picture questions, long-running research programs, and experience reports in programming languages. The ideal SNAPL paper takes one of two forms:
  • A promising idea that would benefit from discussion and feedback.
  • A paper about an ongoing research project that might not be accepted at a traditional conference.
Examples include papers that
  • lay out a research roadmap
  • summarize experiences
  • present negative results
  • discuss design alternatives
SNAPL is interested in all aspects of programming languages. The PC is broad and open-minded and receptive to interesting ideas that will provoke thought and discussion.
Interesting papers would combine the specific with the general. Submissions are limited to five pages (excluding bibliography), and must be formatted using ACM SIG style. The final papers can be up to 10 pages in length. Accepted papers will be published on an open-access site, probably arXiv CoRR.
To encourage authors to submit only their best work, each person can be an author or co-author of a single paper only. SNAPL will prefer experienced presenters and each submission must indicate on the submission site which co-author will present the paper at the conference.
SNAPL also accepts one-page abstracts. Abstracts will be reviewed lightly and all submitted abstracts will be published on the SNAPL 2015 web page. Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to give a 5-minute presentation at the gong show at the conference.
SNAPL is unaffiliated with any organization. It is a conference for the PL community organized by the PL community.

Important Dates

Submission: January 6, 2015
Decisions announced: February 20, 2015
Final versions due: March 20, 2015
Conference: May 3-6, 2015

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5.10.14

 

Errata, please

This is a space where you can leave comments describing errata in any of my published papers. Please include bibliographic details of the paper, and a link to where the paper appears on my web page if you can. Thank you to Dave Della Costa for volunteering the first entry and inspiring the creation of this post, and to all who utilise this space to record and correct my errors for posterity.

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