Low Code/No Code: Why you should be paying attention


A new trend in programming languages (or in avoiding programming languages). Thanks to Simon Gay for spotting. One summary here.

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The UK holds elections on 6 May. From the gov.uk site:

Register by 11:59pm on 19 April to vote in the following elections on 6 May:

  • local government elections and referendums in England
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales
  • Scottish Parliament elections
  • Senedd (Welsh Parliament) elections
  • Mayor of London and London Assembly elections

Register Online. It usually takes about 5 minutes. Start Now.

Registration is easy: a rare example of a well-designed web site.

You can also support your party with a donation. Mine is the Edinburgh Green Party; feel free to add yours via the comments. Current polling shows Green on track to win 10 seats in the regional lists, and Alba on track to get no seats.

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Conferences after COVID: An Early Career Perspective

One silver-lining to the cloud of COVID has been the development of virtual forms of participation. A SIGPLAN blog post by five early-career researchers offers their perspective on what we should do next.
We propose that SIGPLAN form a Committee on Conference Data. The committee would be made up of: one organizing-committee representative from each of the flagship SIGPLAN conferences, one early career representative, and, crucially, a professional data collection specialist hired by SIGPLAN. The group would identify and collect key data that is pertinent to conference organization, especially with respect to physical versus virtual conference formats. The committee would make data-driven recommendations to SIGPLAN organizers based on the collected data and guided by core tenets such as community building, inclusivity, research dissemination, and climate responsibility. We realize that this is not a small request, but we are confident that it is both necessary and achievable. If the committee were to form by May 1, 2021, it would be able to start collecting data at PLDI 2021 and continue through the next two years, providing enormous clarity for SIGPLAN organizers at a time when so much is unclear.

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Mandelbrot Maps --- an invitation

[An open request from three of my students. Please try it out! I'm impressed with what they have achieved.]

We'd like to invite you to take a look at Mandelbrot Maps - an interactive fractal explorer!


This has been my honours project for the past two years, and this year it's also been updated with contributions from Fraser Scott and Georgina Medd. (cheers!)

There's a [Help] menu with information about the various available options: hopefully you'll learn something new!

If you could take a few minutes to look around, we'd really appreciate it! 
Feel free to leave feedback either through the button on the website ([Settings] > [Info] > [Feedback]) or directly:

(This study was certified according to the Informatics Research Ethics Process, RT number 2019/22202)

Thank you!
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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Why Should Anyone use Colours?


Marco Patrignani explains why and how to use colour in your technical papers. The guidelines for making highlighting useful even for colour-blind folk are particularly helpful.

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Wealth Shown to Scale and Incarceration in Real Numbers


Wealth Shown to Scale and Incarceration in Real Numbers, two intriguing infographics from Matt Korostoff.

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The Pandemic to Come


Maria Stoian muses on how our reaction to Covid-19 predicts our reaction to the Climate Crisis. Simultaneously downbeat and upbeat. Courtesy of the Nib.

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Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine

Entrepreneur and software developer Bert Hubert explains the structure of the vaccine, with plentiful analogies to computing. There are some amazing hacks in there! Thanks to Lennart Augustsson for the pointer.

Welcome! In this post, we’ll be taking a character-by-character look at the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine.

Now, these words may be somewhat jarring - the vaccine is a liquid that gets injected in your arm. How can we talk about source code?

This is a good question, so let’s start off with a small part of the very source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, also known as BNT162b2, also known as Tozinameran also known as Comirnaty.

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The Plutus team is hiring

IOG, formerly known as IOHK, is hiring two new members for the Plutus team, currently led by Manuel Chakravarty and Michael Peyton-Jones. One of the posts is for a new leader, but don't worry, Manuel and Michael are both staying; the other post is someone to work on developer relations and communications. People working with the Plutus team include myself, Simon Thompson, and John Hughes. Plutus is a library for Haskell that provides smart contracts for Cardano. Ada, the coin of Cardano, is (as of last week) the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, at USD$32 billion.

Details below. Let me know if you have any questions. 

Software Engineering Lead - Plutus

We are searching for a Software Engineer to lead our Plutus team. The Plutus team is building the core of Cardano’s smart contract functionality on the bedrock of functional programming languages. We are an interdisciplinary team who do original R&D and turn it into production systems.

In the past few years, the Plutus team has:

  • Published five peer-reviewed papers with top academic researchers
  • Designed and implemented three programming languages
  • Formalized the semantics of two of those languages using Agda
  • Helped to improve the ability of Agda to generate usable Haskell output
  • Created novel compilation techniques for data types
  • Written a GHC proposal, which is now being taken into implementation work
  • Implemented a compiler for a subset of Haskell as a GHC plug-in
  • Used statistical modeling to infer evaluation cost models
  • Participated in the design and implementation of the Cardano ledger extensions to support smart contracts.

Such a heady and complex mixture of research, development, and design work needs a competent leader to keep it all working well. If that sounds like fun to you, drop us a line!


Developer Relations Specialist - Plutus

The Cardano ecosystem is expanding and software developer interest is increasing rapidly, so we are looking for a Developer Relations Specialist for the Plutus smart contract programming platform. You will help build, nurture and manage new relationships within established blockchain and smart contract development communities, especially Ethereum.

This role will put you at the forefront of an exciting developer ecosystem at a crucial time in its development, winning and onboarding partners, feeding any requirements and proposals back into the business, and helping rapidly expand a healthy, productive Cardano developer base.

To enjoy this role you will be someone who is passionate about blockchain technologies and the real problems they can address. You will have a proactive, problem-solving attitude, and enjoy working with customers and representing IOG at conferences, meetups, podcasts, etc.


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Imagine the Pandemic without Computer Science

By my colleagues at the University of Glasgow, Muffy Calder and Quintin Cutts. Stunning application of animation and poetry. Text with links here.

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