[TYPES] essay on technical factors behind the success of objects

Jonathan Aldrich jonathan.aldrich at cs.cmu.edu
Fri Aug 2 05:45:47 EDT 2013

Dear Types members,

There is occasional, continuing speculation in the language design and 
type system community regarding the industrial success of objects.  The 
"type/object distinction" discussion on the types list this spring 
touched on this issue, for example.  Many industrially-successful 
programming languages are object-oriented; is this just marketing, or a 
psychological phenomenon, or does it have a technical basis?

I have written an manuscript, to appear in the Onward! 2013 essay 
proceedings, exploring a possible technical explanation for the success 
of objects.  The essay argues that objects (and object types, in 
contrast for example to ADTs) facilitate interoperability between 
different implementations of an abstraction, and that interoperability 
is a critical requirement both for achieving architectural (large-scale, 
framework-style) reuse, and for supporting software ecosystems.  The 
current draft of the manuscript is available at:


I would welcome feedback on the essay--I realize that its thesis may be 
controversial, but even if some do not agree with it, I hope I will at 
least have expressed the essay's argument clearly.  Comments received by 
this coming Monday, August 5th, are particularly appreciated, as I will 
be able to incorporate them into the published version of the essay.


Jonathan Aldrich

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