Strange Loop

September 26-28 2018

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Stifel Theatre

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St. Louis, MO

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The Sociology of Programming Languages

The lone hacker is a myth. Even the early ENIAC computer was programmed by 6 women, and today, millions of programmers work together in teams of all sizes and build upon shared libraries. We now know a lot about designing languages for safety and efficiency... but what about for people? Programming languages need a sociological foundation.

We focused our study on phenomena surrounding language adoption. First, we analyzed 600,000+ open source projects and surveyed thousands of developers to find out how languages get adopted in practice. Second, to understand our results, we drew lessons from the social sciences. We found surprising connections from seemingly unrelated studies such as on why older Americans listen to country music and Mormons do not drink coffee. Finally, we started to examine implications for new language designs, such as what becomes possible when we view adoption not as a problem but as an exploitable resource.

Leo Meyerovich

Graphistry, Inc.

Leo Meyerovich is the CEO of Graphistry, Inc. It is a startup enabling fast visual exploration of big data sets by GPU-accelerating client/cloud visualizations. Graphistry is currently working with pilot customers on improving visibility into customer transactions, web-scale software performance, and other graph and time series data sources. Previously, Leo researched programming language design and implementation at UC Berkeley (Ph.D. 2013). He built the first multicore web browser (3 PLDI SRC awards), which led to Graphistry's GPU compiler and was a precursor to parallel browser projects by Mozilla and Google. He performed the largest analysis of programming language adoption and its social underpinnings (OOPSLA best paper) and, with security researchers at Google, Microsoft, and Brown University, designed several secure web scripting languages. In a past life, he led the design of Flapjax, the first functional reactive language for highly concurrent web software (OOPSLA best paper). He was supported by the first Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, the NSF GRFP, and grants from Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Intel, and others.