The EFF, Oracle, Google, and me

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has submitted an amicus brief for the case of Oracle vs. Google, arguing that copyright should apply to code that implements an API, but not to the API itself, which anyone should be free to implement.  The brief details a number of cases where the freedom to implement an API has led to social benefits.  I am pleased to be a signatory of the brief, in the company of luminaries including John Parry Barlow, Jon Bentley, Frederick Brooks, David Dill, Les Earnest, Doug Lea, Martin Odersky, Bruce Schneier, Bjarne Stoustroup, and others.

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How to reject a paper

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From Session Types to Data Types: RA posts and PhD studentships

I've posted this elsewhere, but neglected to blog before now. 

We are recruiting for research associate positions in design and implementation of programming languages, and also may have PhD studentships available this year and next. The posts are on the project "From Data Types to Session Types: A Basis for Concurrency and Distribution" which is a programme grant funded by EPSRC for five years from 20 May 2013, joint with Simon Gay at the University of Glasgow and Nobuko Yoshida at Imperial College London.

The RA post at Edinburgh for an initial period of 24 months, with possibility of extension, and is on the UE07 scale (£30,424 - £36,298). Deadline for applications for the RA post is Monday 20 May 2013, anyone interested in a PhD studentship should apply as soon as possible.  Glasgow and Imperial are also recruiting.

Please contact me if you are interested in either the RA post or a PhD studentship.  Further description of the Edinburgh RA post is below.

Project Description

Just as data types describe the structure of data, session types describe the structure of communication between concurrent and distributed processes. Our project has particular emphasis on putting theory into practice, by embedding session types in a range of programming languages and applying them to realistic case studies. The research programme is joint between the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, and Imperial College London, and includes collaboration with Amazon, Cognizant, Red Hat, VMware, and the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Principal Duties

The successful candidate will join a team responsible for extending the functional web programming language Links with session types to support concurrency and distribution. We will test our techniques by providing a library to access Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing infrastructure, and perform empirical experiments to assess how our language design impacts the performance of programmers.

You should possess a PhD in a relevant area, or be nearing completion of same, or have comparable experience. You should have a track-record of publication, or other evidence of ability to undertake research and communicate well. You should have a strong background in programming languages, including type systems, and strong programming and software engineering skills.

It is desirable for candidates to also have one or more of the following: a combination of theoretical and practical skills; experience of web programming or cloud programming; knowledge of the theory or practice of concurrent and distributed systems; knowledge of linear logic; or training in empirical measurement of programming tasks.

We seek applicants at an international level of excellence. The Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science is internationally renowned, the School of Informatics at Edinburgh is among the strongest in the world, and Edinburgh is known as a cultural centre providing a high quality of life.

Further details of the RA post, including how to apply, are here.  

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Aleph Cloud

Aleph Cloud is looking to hire Haskell programmers.

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Bike lanes, fewer accidents, better for business

A study conducted in New York City last year shows that bike lanes decrease accidents by up to 58%, while increasing retail business by up to 49%.  Spotted via Boing Boing.  Edinburgh has plans to install a bike lane on George Street downtown. I hope it will be the first of many.
A new study from the New York Department of Transportation shows that streets that safely accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel are especially good at boosting small businesses, even in a recession.

NYC DOT found that protected bikeways had a significant positive impact on local business strength. After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales.

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Elixir and prettier printing

Elixir adds meta-programming to Erlang.
Elixir is a functional meta-programming aware language built on top of the Erlang VM. It is a dynamic language with flexible syntax with macros support that leverages Erlang's abilities to build concurrent, distributed, fault-tolerant applications with hot code upgrades.
Jonn Mostovoy kindly requested my permission to name the pretty printing module Wadler.ex, after my work on prettier printing, which extends John Hughes's work, and appears in Richard Bird's festschrift.  See also Dan Leijen's Haskell version.

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Eschersketch, by Anselm Levskaya.  Spotted via Boing Boing.

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Hawking and academic boycott of Israel

Stephen Hawking has decided to respect the views of his academic colleagues in Palestine, and to boycott the President's Conference in Israel.  It is a courageous action, for which he is taking a lot of flack.  Arguments in favour of academic boycott are set out by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine.

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Pedal on Parliament returns!
Last year 3000 cyclists, young and old, pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to call for safer cycling for everyone. Despite plenty of warm words from politicians since then, nothing fundamental has changed so we’re doing it again.
We need you join us to add your voice in support of our eight-point manifesto for a cycle-friendly Scotland.

Gather at the Meadows in Edinburgh on Sunday 19th of May 2013.

What we want

  1. Proper funding for cycling.
  2. Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
  3. Slower speeds where people live, work and play.
  4. Integrate cycling into local transport strategies.
  5. Improved road traffic law and enforcement.
  6. Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians.
  7. A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training.
  8. Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy.
A recent visit to Copenhagen, which has proper cycle lanes parallel to all main roads, make me especially keen on Point 2.  Imagine Edinburgh with the same.  Cycle as if you lived in the early days of a better nation!

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Nautilus is a new, beautifully produced, online magazine devoted to science.  From its preview issue I enjoyed articles on myths of the golden ratio and an interview with Benoit Mandelbrot (conducted three years after his death!), and from its first issue fiction on the future of literature.



5 Broken Cameras

An infographic summarising the amazing film 5 Broken Cameras, mentioned in a previous post. The film itself provides a graphic summary of life in the shadow of the settlements and the wall.  From Visualising Palestine, which features many infographics (some information rich, some less so).




A mind-exploding recursive video by Wille Witte, with music by Kevin McAlpine. On Vimeo, spotted via Boing Boing.

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