Yesterday, I surprised Alex by coming home from the store with a tiny Fraser fir tree, measuring in at about four feet tall. We've never had a Christmas tree before -- it seems pretty frivolous, considering we're never at home for Christmas anyway -- but I just couldn't resist. I got some LED lights -- they don't get hot! -- and found the handful of ornaments we've been given over the years. The stand I bought turned out to be a piece of junk, but with the creative use of rocks from the front yard, I think we almost got the tree standing up straight. Success!
This has been a festive weekend for more than one reason, actually. On Friday, I gave a PL-wonks talk that doubled as my final presentation for Ryan's seminar course. If I'd just done the presentation in class like I was originally supposed to do, I'd have had to squeeze it into a fifteen-minute slot, which wasn't enough for everything I wanted to say. But PL-wonks talks can be much longer, and as it turned out, the person who'd been scheduled to talk at PL-wonks was willing (and even happy) to give up his slot for me. This is where the grunt work of organizing PL-wonks pays off: I get to pull last-minute stunts like this if I want to. The talk went well, and I realized afterward that not only was it my last class work of the semester, but it was the last work that I'll do for a grade, ever. Hooray! (It's about damn time.) Here are the slides from my talk, which is about dependence analysis and draws heavily from the Allen and Kennedy compilers book.
I also found out on Friday that I received the POPL travel grant that I applied for, which will cover the cost of attending both the workshop offering the grant and POPL itself. The workshop itself would be reason enough to go; there's a fantastic lineup of speakers1, at least five other people from IU are going as well, and plans for an epic road trip are beginning to take shape. But I'm even more excited for the POPL program. In addition to all three of the "Semantics" session talks, I'm excited for the Frenetic talk, the verified LLVM work, the PLT Redex talk, and a bunch of others. This is the first time that I've had funding to go to a major conference (instead of having to pay for it out of pocket, as I did for ICFP last year). Another first for me this year is that a paper that I was one of the reviewers for is appearing at a POPL-affiliated workshop, so I'm hoping to go see that talk, too, in between everything else that's going on.
As if all that weren't enough, I'm also looking forward to the new Off the Beaten Track workshop that's affiliated with POPL and happening the day after the main conference ends. The goal of OBT is to identify and discuss problems that are underrepresented in PL research. The preliminary program just came out, and lots of folks from IU are in it: there's "Embracing the Laws of Physics" (Roshan James and Amr Sabry)2; "Language Design: A Cognitive Science Approach" (Michael Hansen, Andrew Lumsdaine and Robert Goldstone); "Revisiting APL in the Modern Era" (Aaron Hsu and Billy Bowman); and, in the first talk slot, "Rule-Based Interactive Fiction" (Chris chrisamaphone Martens from CMU and Zach Sparks, Claire Alvis, and Will Byrd from IU)! I'm so happy to see this -- I really tried to push people from our group to submit papers to OBT and to apply for the POPL grant, and in both cases, I'm delighted that so many of us apparently did. Quite often, I think, we are underrepresented in PL research. So it's a great thing that a whole bunch of us are going to go to POPL and, well, represent.
- It looks like the talks at the workshop are going to be a mix of PL topics ("Types", "Logic", "Verification", and such) and how-to-succeed-in-grad-school topics ("Writing Papers", "Time Management", and so on). What's kind of amusing is that I saw "Time Management" (presented by Amal and Steve Zdancewic) on the schedule next to "Verification" and "Program Analysis" and for a moment, didn't realize that it wasn't one of the technical topics -- I figured that it would be about, you know, how to reason about time as a linear computational resource or something. That's a talk I wouldn't mind seeing, either! Oh, well. Speaking of time management, I sort of wonder how much can possibly be said to PL grad students about a topic as broad as, say, "Types" in only half an hour, but it will be interesting to find out.
- I mentioned to Amr that it was perhaps unfair to say that this material is "off the beaten track", considering that his and Roshan's paper on this stuff is also appearing in POPL proper. Amr said that it was a good point, but that since his modest goal is for this approach to take over the world, it still qualified as off the beaten track.