Above is a practice version of my SPLASH 2016 keynote. If you don’t want to watch the whole 40 minutes, you can read my slides (100 MB of images!). If you don’t want to read the slides, here’s a super condensed version of my argument:
- The mathematical view of programming languages is powerful and productive
- However, that view is also narrow, limiting the research questions that we ask
- Moreover, it limits who participates in computing, because the dominant culture of computing only projects interest the mathematical view.
- If embracing other views is important for discovery and equity, what other views exist and how can we explore them?
- These views including PL as power, interface, design, notation, language, communication, but also other surprising lenses such as glue, legalese, infrastructure, and even a path out of poverty.
- These views, however, also embody values, meaning that by investigating these metaphors for programming languages, we also embrace new values.
- My work has explored many of these metaphors, including interface, notation, and communication, to great effect.
- I suggest that every PL researcher consider these new views, but also accept them as valid alternative perspectives for PL research.
The response to the keynote was quite positive! People found the ideas interesting, provoking, thoughtful, and in a few cases, brilliant. It was such a privilege to have the attention of so many great programming language and software engineering researchers. I hope I’ve given them a few tools and ideas about how to consider their future work, and perhaps reconsider their past work.