PL Perspectives

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

It’ll be exciting, just like before!  

ICFP 2020 is right around the corner (Aug 23-29), and you won’t want to miss it!  This year’s virtual program is packed with stimulating technical talks, discussion sessions with authors, social events of all shapes and sizes, workshops before and after, and the all-important announcement of the ICFP programming contest winners.

The early registration deadline is August 8th. Although registration is not free, the price is dramatically reduced from previous years. Furthermore, the ICFP 2020 organizing committee is committed to accessibility. If you would like to request a waiver of the registration fee, please fill out this form by the early registration deadline.

 

Mirrored Program

Some might say that the three hardest challenges facing computer science right now are variable binding, off-by-one errors, and timezones. 

Timezones?? Yes, indeed, and this one has been on our minds quite a lot lately, as organizers of virtual ICFP. How can we include functional programmers from everywhere without asking half the world to stay up all night for a week? At the same time, since no one has to travel this year, the virtual format gives us an unprecedented opportunity for increasing access. How can we realize this potential and make ICFP accessible to everyone (including you, dear reader)? Our solution is to mirror the main program

Although we don’t have the program of talks yet available, you can view the session timeline to see when events will be scheduled.

It will work like this: The ICFP technical program will run twice—a first time starting at 9AM in New York and then a second time 12 hours later, starting at 9AM (the next day) in Beijing. To make this work, all authors will pre-record their talks and will be invited to participate in text-based discussion during and in live video discussion after both “showings” of their paper. The text chat will persist across mirrors, and the video chat sessions will allow interested colleagues to get into a deep discussion right away.

ICFP registration includes access to both mirrors of the main ICFP conference and all of the satellite events. We don’t really know what times will work best for your situation, but we hope that you will attend events in each band. Because this format is new, we’re not sure how this will work out. But there are a lot of larks and night owls in our community, so you should expect to run into people from all over the world in both time bands.

Synchronous Social Events

Both time bands include synchronous social events interspersed throughout. The online format means that we need to be much more intentional about creating the social mixing that happens naturally at physical conferences. The social events that we have organized include a career panel, two Women in PL meetups, an LGBT meetup, games and trivia, and more. And our registration system includes the opportunity to sign up for one-on-one mentoring, both during the week of the conference and long term.

“Hallway Track”

Throughout the conference, video chat rooms will be available for ad hoc interaction, and the schedule will include dedicated “coffee breaks” for mingling.

The whole of ICFP will take place in a new integrated virtual conference platform called Clowdr, which bundles streaming video for talks, a live conference program, “contextual” text chat channels that pop up automatically when you enter talks, demos, posters, and video discussion spaces, direct text messaging with other conference participants, and easy on-the-fly creation of both public and private video meeting rooms.

Early versions of Clowdr have already been used successfully by PLDI, ICSE, and other conferences this summer, but the version you’ll see at ICFP is much more integrated.

Live Keynotes

The keynotes will be synchronous, too. It turns out that 9AM in New York is perhaps inconvenient but not terrible for most of the rest of the world. This is when we will all come together as a single conference! We have two exciting keynote speakers planned: Audrey Tang, well-known Haskeller and Taiwan’s Digital Minister, will kick off the conference by speaking about how software developers can contribute to fighting the pandemic. Next, Evan Czaplicki, will cover the Elm programming language and hard lessons learned on driving adoption of new programming languages. Finally, heading up the last day, we will feature a live announcement of the ICFP programming contest winners!

There’s lots to experience. Hope to see you there!

Bio: Stephanie Weirich is the ENIAC President’s Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and the General Chair of ICFP 2020. The ICFP virtualization committee consists of Adam Chlipala, Benjamin C. Pierce, Niki Vazou, Alan Jeffrey, Sukyoung Ryu, and Stephanie Weirich.

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.