Archive for the 'Berlin' Category

APL2010 – a brief introspection (Guest Brian)

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.

Prominent Theme:
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:
Dyalog’s APL# – a new, functional, array-oriented scripting language which aims to compete with Python / Ruby / JavaScript for technical / computational applications, and make it possible to deploy APL code in places where Dyalog APL cannot go. (I stole this from Morten Kromberg’s slide because I couldn’t say it any better myself.)

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.

Interesting Banquet:
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 story 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.

Final Impressions:
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.

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My APL2010 – pick list (guest Vibeke)

Conference Presentations (based on those I managed to attend):
Most laughs: Prof Dr. Ing Horst Zuse – “The origins of the computer”

Best entertainment value: Jay Foad (Dyalog) – “An Interpreter for Vanilla Siteswap”

Presentation with highest sex-appeal (I want one of those!): John Daintree (Dyalog) – “Taking APL for a RIDE”

Most “wake up we’re moving ahead” presentation: Morten Kromberg, John Scholes and Jonathan Manktelow (Dyalog) – “APL#”

Most fantastic application presentation: Lars Wenzel (Fujitsu Sweden) – “Volvo application”.

Best up-coming APL’ers presentation: Mstislav Elagin & Ryan Tarpine – winners of the programming contest.

Most intriguing and thought provoking on parallel/multicore: Sven-Bodo Scholz (University of Hertfordshire)

Best selling proposition for flogging APL: Paul Grosvenor (Optima Systems) – “Making Money with APL”

Most progressive and “on the ball” APL Vendor with resources to do R&D: Dyalog Ltd.

Berlin is a nice city and I would like to go back sometime and play tourist. Great restaurants and good music venues. Went to A-Trane (Larry Goldings trio) and Quasimodo (Blues rock with German 5 piece bluesband called “five” & bough their CD ‘Five in the Kitchen’. Great food at Ottenthal – best pudding I’ve ever had (poppyseed & lavender sabayon).

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APL in the New Millenium

It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.

– Sa’di

My friend, Scott Hall, will notice that I borrowed the Sadiq quote above from his Facebook post this morning.  It resonates with me on many levels today.  On the personal side, I’ve already had to apologise twice today for speaking too quickly, too soon & without the requisite precision. Ouch. TWICE.

In the mean time, I’m thinking about how serious and personal this project has become.   This feels a little like scope creep, which started innocently enough with who’s here and who’s willing to let me shove a camera in their face.    The answer of course, is me and my dad.

In any case, what jumped out at me when I wrote the application I mentioned last week for the film is a shift of voice that has occurred in the last year.  In other words, I’m using my own voice because, guess what folks, the story is getting more personal.  But don’t be scared.

I’m also relying on serendipity to pull me through the tidal waves of material which are coming my way.  I am emboldened by Denis Shasha’s essay on Michael  O. Rabin The Possibility of Chance, although I know full well, this is not the interpretation he had in mind.

But this does lead me to my next point which is that of the small treasures my father put into my box, APL Quote Quad Volume 29, Number 4 from June 1999, attracted my attention.  This issue attracted my attention because APL Berlin 2000: The Array Processing Language Conference for the Year 2000 is on the cover.  This year’s APL conference in September is also in BerlinAnd I really want to go!

It’s probably an appropriate moment to think about how much the world has changed in the last decade. Communication technology has been revolutionized, which is great for me, but how will this effect our coming together in person?  What will draw us together to face the rath of Eyjafjallajökull? Why can I just throw in a word like Eyjafjallajökull, and be confident that if you don’t know it, you’ll find it?

Now my trump card. The reason my father put this particular issue of  APL Quote Quad into my box is not because of Berlin.  It is not in my possession to make me think about the future, or what I’m doing or how I’m doing it.  This issue simply holds the obituary of  John C. McPherson and my father wants me to know about this man, a visionary really,  who championed APL at IBM in the very early days.

And that’s what I mean by serendipitous and personal.

And if you are part of the array language community, and you’re up on your obits, you’ll recognize the title of this blog post.  It is the title of perhaps Ken Iverson’s last article, I’m guessing here but Chris or Roger will know for sure, if it really was his last.

My hope is to encourage the relatively small APL family to mute their differences, and present a more united face to the programming world.

So, I’m here doing my part, knowing full well, this is not the interpretation he had in mind.

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