APL2010 – a brief introspection
by Brian Becker
Reprinted from Catherine Lathwell’s Chasing Men Who Stare At Arrays .
Having been on the periphery of the APL community for the last several years, I found it refreshing to attend an APL conference once again. It was good to see old friends and associates and meet new people as well.
Parallel computing… perhaps computing hardware is finally catching up with APL. There were at least six sessions and many more informal discussions about how APL is natural fit for multi-core, parallel execution and about work and research that is actively taking place. It seems there is great potential, but not without challenge – for instance, while multiple fast cores are available to execute code they are still dependent on relatively slow memory for data.
Interesting thing in the works
Something cool I plan to use
WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) – want a slick user interface? WPF seems the way to go. It gives you virtually unlimited control over the look, feel, and functionality of your user interface. That’s the good news… the bad? WPF books are very thick. Thank you Michael Hughes and Joe Blaze for your WPF presentations.
Something cool I want sooner than later
Dyalog’s RIDE (Remote Integrated Development Environment)… imagine being able to connect to an APL session and debug it from your iPhone. RIDE allows you to connect to a Dyalog session from a web browser on almost any client platform. Very cool stuff.
Most entertaining session
Dyalog’s Jay Foad’s presentation on juggling patterns augmented by Jay himself juggling up to 5 balls. This raises the bar for future presenters… what’s next? Unicycles?
Something I miss from past APL conferences
Interprocess Systems buttons… they had the most amusing captions like “Greek Looks Like APL To Me” and “Another Brilliant Mind Ruined by APL”. Though, Dan Baronet’s “Ich Bin Ein APLer” tee-shirt was a welcome sight.
The banquet was held at Mercedes World at Salzufer. Imagine eating a buffet dinner surrounded by every imaginable model of Mercedes Benz. That, plus a 4-storey climbing wall. Now if they only gave out cars as door prizes…
Most encouraging aspect
The first and second place winners of the 2010 International APL Programming Contest, Ryan Tarpine and Mstislav Elagin… Both gave thoughtful and candid presentations about their experiences and impressions with APL, pointing out the aspects that they liked and those they didn’t. They shared a true enthusiasm and appreciation for the expressive power of APL. I found it poignant when Ryan spoke about the “beauty” of an APL expression, something I felt when I first encountered APL 35 years ago. Ryan and Mstislav represent APL’s future and we need to reach out to others like them.
There is active use and interesting development of APL and array processing technology.
We need to expand beyond our own community – there were several interesting papers and presentations that would play equally well, perhaps even better, at non-APL conferences. We need to get the word out that APL is a viable and vibrant technology.