Taking Functional Programming Into The Mainstream

Don Syme

Other, N&N · Keynote
Wednesday, 09:00, 1 hour | Bürgersaal 1

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Over the last 10 years, Microsoft Research has been able to help progress functional programming to the point that it is now an accepted mainstream approach for certain problem domains. Now, with the increasing amount of data available to us, we need new ways of thinking around how to create scalable solutions in order to best exploit it as the multi-core revolution takes hold. Languages such as F#, Scala, Erlang and Haskell are well suited to this task as their functional programming style emphasize immutability, side effect free functions, compositional parallelism and asynchronous I/O. In this talk I will use F# as an extended example of how functional programming is becoming part of the mainstream, with ramifications across the spectrum of programming languages and platforms. We will look at why Microsoft and Microsoft Research is investing in functional programming, what this has meant for F#, C# and Haskell, and what we've done to build product-quality support for F#. Note: Examples will be given using Microsoft Visual Studio, though the talk is offered in the spirit of cooperation and progress across computing platforms.

Don Syme is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, Cambridge. He helps Microsoft make better programming languages, and, through that, make people more productive and, hopefully, happier. His main current responsibility is the design and implementation of F#, though he’s also worked on C# (being co-responsible for C# and .NET generics) and, indirectly, Visual Basic and other .NET languages.

As a researcher, Don’s area is programming language design and implementation, with emphasis on making functional languages that are simpler to use, interoperate well with other languages and which incorporate aspects of object-oriented, asynchronous and parallel programming. He is particularly interested in programming language perspectives on type inference, concurrency, reactivity, pattern matching and language-oriented programming. He also works extensively with teams in the Microsoft Developer Division on other programming-related technologies.

Don is the primary author of Expert F#, published in 2007, and he is now working on a second edition of this book. In the past he has worked in formal specification, interactive proof, automated verification and proof description languages. Don has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and is a member of the WG2.8 working group on functional programming.

Slides

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