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PL Perspectives

Perspectives on computing and technology from and for those with an interest in programming languages.

Initially, when it became clear that there was no way PLDI 2020 could take place in London, I was pretty down. I was so excited about hosting folks from around the world at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington for 6 days of Programming Language awesomeness! Now I couldn’t do that.

However, a lot has happened since then – I’ve been on a steep learning curve about virtual conferences, and I’m now REALLY excited about Virtual PLDI 2020, which will take place during the week of June 15.

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, registration for the conference is free.  Registration closes later this week – on June 5. This is because we need a bit of time to onboard everyone for the conference – to make sure everyone’s got access to the tools we are going to use and ensure that things run smoothly. So please register now if you haven’t already!

Let me briefly tell you about the things the Organizing Committee and I have been working on to spread the word about the conference and to make the virtual conference as appealing and interactive as possible.

The motivational song!

To emphasise that PLDI really is happening we made a song and music video!  Our publicity chair, John Wickerson, wrote fantastic new words to the old classic “You Were Always On My Mind”, turning it into “This is Still PLDI”, and we managed to arm-twist colleagues and friends from our community to each sing a line or two.

Check out the video on YouTube (or here if YouTube isn’t available to you)!

How the research track will work

Next, we have – as always – a great lineup of technical presentations.  You can watch lightning videos for all PLDI papers on the PLDI 2020 playlist on SIGPLAN’s YouTube channel.

The full versions of these presentations will be delivered as a webinar, with Q&A taking place via Slack.  You can post questions on Slack which paper authors will answer live!  Here’s another video showing how it will work (direct link if you don’t have YouTube):


Special guests in the Ask Me Anything track

To complement the research paper track, we are delighted to have 16 special guests who will appear live in a webinar for Ask Me Anything sessions – you can ask (again via Slack) your best questions for the guests to answer live.  We’re excited to have the following guests (in order of appearance): Simon Peyton Jones, Byron Cook, Margaret Martonosi, Kathryn McKinley, Bjarne Stroustrup, Michelle Strout, Felix Klock, Peter O’Hearn, Alex Aiken, Richard Gabriel, Kathleen Fisher, Işil Dillig, Martin Vechev, Chris Lattner, Doug Lea and Guy Steele.  Check out the full AMA program.

What about hallway conversations?

Hallway conversations are one of the best things about a physical conference.  We’re experimenting with two ways to try to simulate these at Virtual PLDI – a Gather space (where you can wander around and drift in and out of conversations seamlessly), and a feature that Jonathan Bell has added to our Slack workspace where you can type a simple command to instantly create a video chat room – either a private room for you and specific other participants, or a public room with an advertised topic that others can join.  This video demonstrates both in action (direct link if you don’t have YouTube):


And there’s much more than just the main conference!

Finally: the above focuses on the main conference, but we also have a host of great workshops and tutorials, plus the co-located ISMM conference, happening live during the PLDI week. Check out all the details at the PLDI website.

So, if you haven’t registered yet then what are you waiting for? 🙂  Register before June 5, and I hope to see you at the Virtual PLDI conference!

Bio: Dr. Alastair F. (Ally) Donaldson is a Reader in Computing at Imperial College London, where he leads the Multicore Programming Group, and a Software Engineer at Google. He was also Founder and Director of GraphicsFuzz, which was acquired by Google in 2018. He is the General Chair of (Virtual) PLDI 2020.

Disclaimer: These posts are written by individual contributors to share their thoughts on the SIGPLAN blog for the benefit of the community. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal, belong solely to the blog author and do not represent those of ACM SIGPLAN or its parent organization, ACM.