Links meeting at ETAPS
Wednesday 6 April 2005
Conference Suite, School of Informatics,
2 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9LW
8.30--9.00 Arrival and coffee
9.00--10.30 Five talks
11.00--12.30 Five talks
12.30--2.00 Lunch (on your own, many eateries nearby) (Map)
2.00--3.30 Five talks
6.00--on Repair to Links Bar
(4 Alveney Terrace, Whitehouse Loan, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, EH9 1DU)
Preliminary list of attendees
Two updates on Links.
(1) The meeting will be 9.30--17.30 Wednesday 6 April 2005, in the
Conference Suite, School of Informatics, 2 Buccleuch Place. After the
meeting, we will adjourn for a drink in The Links Bar, Bruntsfield. As
before, let me know if you want to attend.
(2) The Links meeting is colocated with ETAPS. There is no requirement
to register for ETAPS to attend Links, but you may wish to do
so. Please note that ETAPS registration fees increase after Monday 7
March. (Apologies for the late notice, but the venue was confirmed
Call for Participation
Taking advantage of the fact that the world will be visiting my
doorstep, with the help of some colleagues I am organizing a meeting
on Links for 6 April 2005, to overlap with ETAPS. The meeting is by
invitation only --- please let me know if you would like to be
If we bent our minds to it, could we produce a functional language
that was as widely used as Python? There is reason to believe that
functional languages are particularly well suited to building web
* Databases. Kleisli and Mnesia (not to mention SQL and
XQuery) have demonstrated the value of functional languages as query
* XML. Xduce, Cduce, Bigwig (not to mention XSLT and XQuery)
have demonstrated the value of functional languages for manipulating
* Continuations. PLT Scheme and WASH have demonstrated the value of
functional languages for structuring CGI interfaces.
* Distribution. Erlang and JoCaml have demonstrated the value of
functional languages for distribution and mobility.
The technique of building a coalition to design, implement, and
promote a general-purpose programming language has proven
spectacularly successful for ML and Haskell. Can we apply this
technique again, this time aimed at an application domain?
ETAPS will attract a large number of researchers to Edinburgh, and
seems an appropriate point for launching this project. We propose
to meet on *** Wednesday 6 April 2005 in Edinburgh ***. We hope you
The working name for this project is Links. A quarter of a century
ago, Burstall, MacQueen, and Sannella introduced Hope, the source of
the algebraic types of ML and Haskell. Hope was named after Hope Park
Square, located near Edinburgh University on the Meadows. Links is
named after the Bruntsfield Links, located at the other end of the the
Meadows and site of the first public golf course.
Points to be discussed at the Links meeting include:
* Presentations on work to date -- we hope you will contribute to this.
* Types. The type system of Haskell and the module system of ML
are both extremely powerful, but quite different. Regular expression
types for XML are also powerful, but it is unclear how to combine
these with polymorphism or higher-order functions. Further, to be
successful, any new language must play well with SOAP, Java, and C#,
at a minimum; how do we integrate OO and FP types?
* Effects. It is proposed that the language be strict, with an effect
type system (combining the advantages of Haskell monads with ML effects).
What variety of effects should be supported? Can we provide support for
laziness within this framework? (See Wadler and Thiemann for
relations between monads and effect type systems, see Wadler, Taha, and
MacQueen for a proposal to support laziness in a strict language.)
* Targets. Web applications are often structured as three tiers:
(running Java, C#, Python, Perl), and database (running SQL or XQuery).
We hope to compile code to run in all three tiers from a single source.
How can a compiler framework support multiple targets of this kind?
(See Thiemann on generating multi-tier programs from a single source.)
* Organization. How to structure the work? Should we put in for
European and/or US grants?
Volunteers for presentations and suggestions as to topics and organization
would be most welcome.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Simon Peyton Jones