[Pl-seminar] Guy Steele at GBC/ACM/IEEE-CS 9/20/07

Mitchell Wand wand at ccs.neu.edu
Mon Aug 27 15:47:29 EDT 2007

Joint meeting of GBC/ACM and Boston/Central New England Chapter of IEEE
Computer Society
Thursday, September 20, 7-9 pm
MIT Media Lab Bartos Auditorium (MIT room E15-070)
The talk is free and open to the public

What's Cool about Fortress

Guy L. Steele Jr.
Sun Fellow
Sun Microsystems Laboratories

The Fortress programming language is now catching on outside of Sun.
During 2004-2006 it was an internal research project, funded in part by
contract with DARPA for High Productivity Computer Systems. In January 2007
it became an open-source project with an open-source community.
People outside Sun are now writing Fortress code and testing it using the
open-source Fortress interpreter. In this talk we will discuss some of the
recent activity in this community as well as features of Fortress that have
made it so appealing. While the language design was originally aimed at
high-end ("petascale") parallel supercomputers, it appears also to be
well-suited for programming multicore chip and multicore cluster systems.

Guy leads a small computer language research group at Sun Microsystems.
Prior to that, he worked at (among other places) Thinking Machines,
Tartan Labs, and MIT, where the Scheme language he helped develop as his
thesis project was in widespread use for introductory computer science
courses for many years. His involvement in developing computer language
concepts and standardizing computer languages has had a widespread
impact on the entire industry.

In 1975 he codesigned (with Gerald Sussman) the Scheme language, which
was heavily influenced by his graduate work at MIT. Scheme has been
standardized as IEEE Standard 1178-1990 for the Scheme Programming
Language; the 6th revision of this standard is going out for public
balloting this summer.

Guy's two dozen or so papers on Lisp-like languages and their
implementation (sometimes referred to as the "Lambda Papers") have had
widespread influence in the computer language community; in particular,
they persuaded the community that denotational semantics could be used
effectively not only as a descriptive formalism but as a practical means
of implementing a programming language.

Guy was vice chair and then chair of the X3J13 committee that
standardized Common Lisp. He also formalized the grammar of Java, helped
define several language features (including support for generic types),
and coauthored (with James Gosling and Bill Joy) the Java Language
Specification (in print for the last 10 years and now in its third
edition). His book "C: A Reference Manual" (co-authored with Samuel
Harbison) has been in print for 23 years and is now in its fifth
edition. His book "Common Lisp: The Language" has been in print for 22
years and is now in its second edition. He was the project editor for
the first edition of the standard for ECMAScript (popularly known as
"JavaScript"), which is used in every Internet web browser. He also
served on the X3J11 standards committee (C programming language).

One important thrust of Guy's work has been the extension of programming
languages to support parallelism and high performance computing. In this
context, he designed Connection Machine Lisp (for fine-grained parallel
symbolic computing) and C* (an extended C language for data parallel
programming), and contributed heavily to the design of Fortran 90 and
High Performance Fortran, for which his book "The High Performance
Fortran Handbook" (with four co-authors) is one of the main reference
sources. His current work in the design of the Fortress language extends
this work.

Guy has served on over 30 program committees, 4 as chair, and one as
subfield chair and 7 PhD thesis committees.

Guy's work has received appropriate recognition from a variety of
organizations including:
Dr. Dobb's Journal Excellence in Programming Award (2005).
fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002)
member of the National Academy of Engineering (2001)
ACM 1996 SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award
ACM Fellow (1994, part of initial batch of fellows)
AAAI Fellow (1990, part of initial batch of fellows)

ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award (1988) "for his general contributions to
the development of Higher Order Symbolic Programming, principally for
the advancement of lexical scoping in LISP"

ACM 1974-75 George E. Forsythe Student Paper Competition, First Place
"for his paper `Multiprocessing Compactifying Garbage Collection'
published in Communications of the ACM, Volume 18, September 1975"

The MIT Media Lab is at 20 Ames St, on the side of the MIT Campus
closest to the Kendall Sq T stop. The Bartos Auditorium (room E15-070)
is one flight down, in the basement.
Contact Peter Mager (p.mager at computer.org) for additional information.
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