Archive for the 'OOPSLA 2006 Trip Report' Category

OOPSLA 2006 Summary

At my first OOPSLA in 2004, I became so enamored with the Wiki that I eventually used one to author my trip report. This time I decided to give blogging a go (full report here), but I’d like to retain one important feature of my previous trip report style: a section called “Things to Investigate”.

One of the great and terrifying things about OOPSLA, for me, is that I find myself unable to remember all the things I now absolutely must learn. This is at once both incredibly exciting, and daunting. Most assuredly, I will not have time to research all these topics, but I want to record them (for posterity, if nothing else).

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Tutorial: Python

The full title of this tutorial was, “Totally Awesome Computing: Python as a General-Purpose Programming Language.” I signed up for this talk primarily because it was given by Chuck Allison, whose name I recognized from the C++ community.

Chuck started from square one, which was great since I’m a total Python n00b. However, I won’t attempt to describe all the details of Python syntax here. (There are plenty of resources online already.) Instead, I’ll focus on a few things that I found new and interesting.

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In his keynote, Guy Steele spoke about a new language he’s developing at Sun called Fortress (official site at The research is part of DARPA’s High Productivity Computer Systems initiative.

Growing a Language
Guy Steele gave a famous talk at OOPSLA ’98 entitled, Growing a Language, and applied this philosophy to Fortress. Languages evolve over time. We should expect mistakes and plan for warts. Thus, said Steele, we need a lightweight corrective system — replaceable components with some kind of built-in version control (Note: it was unclear if Fortress had realized this vision). He stressed a desire to avoid a monolithic standard library. “It would be great if there were a dozen implementations of complex numbers.”

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Intentional Software

As much as I hate Hungarian notation, I must admit that Charles Simonyi was an interesting speaker.

Charles began by recalling some of the writings of John von Neumann. Since the quotes predate the modern notion of a “computer program”, von Neumann used the word intent instead. Simonyi clearly thinks that there is a very important distinction between intent, and this strange artifact we call a program.

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Dynamic Languages Symposium

For some reason I can no longer remember, I didn’t wander downstairs right away on Monday morning. Consequentially, I missed Ian Piumarta’s talk at the Dynamic Languages Symposium (official program, another one). Once I got in the room, however, I could hardly leave. It was that great.

I’ll list the presentations I saw and give some brief commentary. I’ll also link to slides, etc, when possible.

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Tutorial: Demystifying GCC

This tutorial was supposed to be taught by Morgan Deters, Kenneth Zadeck, and Ron Cytron. For various reasons, the talk ended up being just Morgan. This was somewhat disappointing, because Ron and Ken are co-inventors of SSA.

One additional note: this was designed as a 6 hour talk, but was reduced to 3 hours without changing the scope of the talk. (Uh oh)

I sat near Kang Su Gatlin (a familiar face from Microsoft), as well as Arno Hasse from

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This will be the first in a series of articles about my OOPSLA experiences as they happen. I’ll keep everything in the OOPSLA 2006 Trip Report category, for easy access.

How’s that for a shameless attempt to pass off blogging as actual work, eh?