[TYPES/announce] Underrepresented Problems for PL Researchers: A New Workshop at POPL 2012

David Walker dpw at cs.princeton.edu
Tue Oct 4 14:10:17 EDT 2011

Off The Beaten Track (OBT):
Underrepresented Problems for Programming Language Researchers
Co-Located with POPL 2012
Philadelphia, USA


January 28th, 2012


Submitting to OBT is easy.  Send us a 1-page PDF outlining an interesting, unusual, or controversial off-the-beaten-track problem or idea.  We will make room for as many creative 5-minute talks as we can, interleaved with lively discussion.  Alternatively, send us a 2-page PDF to apply for a longer talk.  See the webpage for details:  



Programming language researchers have the principles, tools, algorithms and abstractions to solve all kinds of problems, in all areas of computer science. However, identifying and evaluating new problems, particularly those that lie outside the typical core PL problems we all know and love, can be a significant challenge. Hence, the goal of this workshop is to identify and discuss problems that do not often show up in our top conferences, but where programming language researchers can make a substantial impact. The hope is that by holding such a forum and associating it directly with a top conference like POPL, we can slowly start to increase the diversity of problems that are studied by PL researchers and that by doing so we will increase the impact that our community has on the world.

While many workshops associated with POPL have become more like mini-conferences themselves, this is not the goal for Off the Beaten Track. The workshop will be informal and structured to encourage discussion. It will also be centered around problems and problem areas as opposed to fully-formed solutions.

A good submission is one that outlines a new problem or an interesting, underrepresented problem domain. Good submissions may also remind the PL community of problems that were once in vogue but have not recently been seen in top PL conferences. Good submissions do not need to propose complete or even partial solutions, though there should be some reason to believe that programming languages researchers have the tools necessary to search for solutions in the area at hand. Submissions that seem likely to stimulate discussion about the direction of programming language research are encouraged. Possible topics include any of the following.

    * Biology, chemistry, or other natural sciences
    * Art, music, graphics and animation
    * Networking, cloud computing, systems programming
    * Linguistics
    * Economics, law, politics or other social sciences
    * Web programming, social computing
    * Algorithms and complexity
    * Mathematics, statistics
    * Machine learning or artificial intelligence
    * Education
    * Unusual compilers; underrepresented programming languages
    * Surprise us

We certainly hope to see submissions on topics not mentioned above. The goal of the workshop is to be inclusive, not exclusive. Submissions are evaluated on the basis of creativity, novelty, clarity, possible impact and potential for stimulating discussion.

Workshop Structure

The one-day workshop will be structured to include the following activities:

    * Short submitted talks, ~5 minutes long, interleaved with 5-15 minutes of discussion
    * Longer submitted talks, ~15-30 minutes long, interleaved with discussion
    * Longer invited talks
    * A panel

The exact structure and length of talks will be decided on by the program chair in consultation with the program committee.
For more details on submission requirements, see

Important dates

Paper submission        Monday November 14, 2011 (11:59PM US EST)
Author notification     Friday December 9, 2011
Conference              Saturday January 28, 2012

Program Committee

Thomas Ball (Microsoft Research, Redmond)
Trevor Jim (AT&T)
Julia Lawall (DIKU)
Boon Thau Loo (University of Pennsylvania)
Geoff Mainland (Microsoft Research, Cambridge)
Chung-chieh Shan (Cornell)
David Walker (Princeton University, Chair)

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