Monday, July 6, 2015

Post-PLDI 2015

Attending PLDI 2015 was a great experience. I had a chance to see many great talks at both PLDI and FCRC, meet with fellow students and faculty in both PL and architecture, and take a little time to explore Portland.

I was especially happy to meet my future colleague Peter-Michael Osera, who will be joining me as a new faculty member at Grinnell College this fall. I enjoyed seeing Michael Stonebraker's Turing Award lecture. Some stand-out talks from the PLDI program include Dan Barowy's work on FlashRelate, Stelios Sidiroglou-Douskos' work on repairing vulnerable programs with automatic code transfer, and Nuno P. Lopes' work on provably correct optimizations with Alive.

I think the dual tracked conference format worked well (it was the first time I had attended a dual-tracked PLDI), especially with the one minute madness videos playing in the lobby. PLDI 2015 was a great experience, and I'm already looking forward to PLDI in Santa Barbara, CA next year.

Post-PLDI 2015

PLDI 2015 was a great experience. I had lots of chances to talk to people about interesting work and heard some very good talks, just like I hoped. I also got great feedback after my talk, which I really appreciated.

I also really enjoyed hearing the presentations at the SIGPLAN Townhall meeting. I was shocked at how much planning and work Steve Blackburn put in as PC chair, and he did a good job summarizing the lessons learned from the whole experience. Jan Vitek described the status of things like artifact evaluation, blind reviewing, and open access across the different SIGPLAN conferences. He also explained the results of various polls of SIGPLAN members on their views of these issues. Although there is a lot of disagreement, it's great that the SIGPLAN community actively discusses these issues. I think it's important for graduate students like me to pay attention, since some day our cohort will take a larger role in managing these things.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Back from PLDI

This is somewhat belated, but I recently (sort of) returned from a trip to Portland to attend PLDI, where I gave a talk entitled "Peer-to-peer Affine Commitment Using Bitcoin", or, more whimsically, "Massively Multiplayer Online Linear Logic". I really enjoyed the opportunity to present this work and discuss it with people; people seemed to find it very intriguing, if perhaps a little silly.

I really enjoyed the chance to talk to people about their work, and to catch up with and make new friends from other parts of the PL community.

Some of the talks I found most interesting were:
  •  "Automatically Improving Accuracy for Floating Point Expressions"; a very well delievered talk about automatically implementing numerical methods transformations on floating point computations
  •  "Verifying Read-Copy-Update in a Logic for Weak Memory"
  •  "Composing Concurrency Control"
  •  "A Formal C Memory Model Supporting Integer-Pointer Casts"; this work is near and dear to me because I am also working on designing an alternative for a problematic part of the C/C++ spec. The particular problem even has a similar root cause: an unfortunate reliance on syntactic data dependence to define semantic behavior.
  •  "Profile-Guided Meta-Programming"
  •  "Synthesizing Data Structure Transformations from Input-Output Examples" and "Type-and-Example-Directed Program Synthesis"; I'm a huge sucker for example based program synthesis even though I have yet to be convinced that it is actually useful

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Attending PLDI this year was certainly a joyful journey to me. I think it was well organized and the whole process went smoothly well. Thank the organizing committee!

The Abstract Videos provided great help for finding papers that I was interested. And some of them did great jobs in making their video both attractive and accessible. The quality of the papers are quite impressive in general (although some of them are not within the areas of my expertise), which in turn encourages me to put high standard on my future research. It was very nice meeting so many familiar faces and old friends, sharing our recent progress in new projects and even new research topics, like Eddy, Tongping and Man; It was also exciting to get to know new people and learn their research and experience, like Jeff Huang, Qiang Guan, Hao Luo, Swarnendu Biswas and many others. I think Bin, Yufei and Danfeng all did great jobs in their presentations. Each time I heard a great talk, I always reminded myself of the importance of delivering a good presentation as a researcher.

Finally, I was very happy to learn that the PLDI community is stably growing, with more and more submissions, and more mature reviewing process. Best wishes to the next PLDI in Santa Barbra!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


It was an amazing experience the past week in PLDI. During this year's PLDI, I met a few new friends whose research are very related to my work. The two Turing talks I attended were also great. Thanks to FCRC, I can attend two top conferences, PLDI and ISCA.

Many talks and papers in this year's PLDI were very impressive. I was particularly impressed by the talk given by Professor Milind Kulkarni on "tree dependence analysis". I also had a very pleasant time talking with two researchers, Bin Ren and Yufei Ding, whose work interested me most. They are very friendly and their work are very solid. I highly recommend reading their papers. I also liked the Turing talks given by Professor Michael Stonebraker. I read about his story during the my flight from the June edition of CACM. His talk was intriguing and I am sure, everyone could find something valuable from it. In this year, because of FCRC, ISCA held at the same time with PLDI, so I was able to switch between different sessions of these two top conferences. It was very convenient to me.

I want to express my thanks to the organizers of PLDI, ISCA and FCRC. I am also very grateful of the generous travel funding support from NSF. And at last, I also would like to express my congratulations to all the paper authors of PLDI this year.


It's been a week since PLDI ended.  It was my first time attending a conference, and was very interesting and helpful.  Besides the talks given during the main conference, the tutorials and workshops I attended are also very helpful.  I particularly enjoyed the PinPlay tutorial, because it was really well-organized and informative.

Moreover, having the opportunity to talk with many brilliant people at the conference was a great motivation to attend the conference next time.   I look forward to attending the PLDI next year.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Another great conference

I had a great time this past week at PLDI/FCRC. I hadn't originally planned on attending, but I was able to thanks to generous funding from the student volunteer program and the NSF. At the beginning of the week, I attended WoW, the Workshop on WALA. WALA is a program analysis framework developed at IBM Research that my research group has been using to develop security analysis tools. At the workshop, my lab mate Andrew Johnson presented the novel multi-threaded pointer analysis is working to upstream into the WALA code base.

PLDI itself was a blast. Our paper, "Exploring and Enforcing Security Guarantees via Program Dependence Graphs" was received very well---a number of other static analysis researchers were eager to discuss the techniques we used to implement our precise, scalable analysis. On top of that, our video abstract won best video for our day of the conference.

Between my duties as a student volunteer and the "hallway track," I didn't get to attend all of the talks I hoped to, but some highlights for me were:
  • "Automatically Improving Accuracy for Floating Point Expressions" by Pavel Panchekha, Alex Sanchez-Stern, James R. Wilcox, and Zachary Tatlock
  • "FlashRelate: Extracting Relational Data from Semi-Structured Spreadsheets Using Examples" by Dan Barowy, Sumit Gulwani, Ted Hart, and Benjamin Zorn
  • "Lightweight, Flexible Object-Oriented Generics" by Yizhou Zhang, Andrew Myers, Barbara Liskov, Guido Salvaneschi, and Matt Loring
  • "Relatively Complete Counterexamples for Higher-Order Programs" by Phúc Nguyễn and David Van Horn
  • "Finding Counterexamples from Parsing Conflicts" by Chinawat Isradisaikul and Andrew Myers
  • "Interactive Parser Synthesis by Example" by Alan Leung, John Sarracino, and Sorin Lerner
I wrote a brief overview of some of these papers on my blog. Of course, this list is not an exhaustive list of great papers at the conference!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Back "home" from PLDI

I returned back to NY to resume my internship at IBM yesterday after a great week at PLDI/FCRC.  While I was not able to attend as many talks as I hoped--my PLDI student volunteering duties kept me very busy--I was introduced to a large number of new faces.  Some of these were the truly excellent student volunteers at PLDI who really came through, assisting nervous presenters, counting attendees, guiding people to the right places, and generally just being helpful people you could rely on in a pinch to do odd jobs.  I also met the conference organizers, whose drive to put on a great show really impressed me; particularly Steve Blackburn who was quite literally running back and forth to make sure everything went perfectly.  Still others were the established researchers who wanted to talk to me about my research, their thoughts on "my area", and collaboration opportunities (!!!).

I also had a great time with friends from former internships, and for me, seeing what these folks are working on and how they're doing professionally (a surprising number are now first-year faculty or researchers at industry labs) was one of the highlights of the conference.

Unexpectedly, my work on FlashRelate was given the "Distinguished Artifact" award, which I was informed about mere minutes before my presentation.  It's hard to express what a confidence boost that was.  I couldn't help but think that even if I gave the worst presentation ever*, at least my peers think my work is good.  I put a lot of work into ensuring that the software was polished.  I've been told, and I was starting to believe, that I put *too much* work into the software.  Hey, maybe not!

Which I think raises an opportunity to talk about the contributions of my co-authors.  Ted Hart helped me tremendously with FlashRelate, particularly the testing tools (which he built almost entirely himself).  Ted and Gustavo Soares also made FlashRelate look really professional by developing a web UI that replaced my functional but really awful-looking Excel plugin UI, and they even delivered on my last-minute feature requests.  And finally, Ben Zorn, Sumit Gulwani, and Ted were involved every step of the way in the intellectual development of the work.  FlashRelate went through innumerable revisions from the time we started to the time we finished, and when I look back at our early paper drafts, it is really shocking to see how much the idea changed.  All of these people met with me like a million times, gently nudged me in the right direction, teaching me PL basics, teaching me scientific basics, asking deep questions, recasting seemingly intractable problems in a new light, and finally, teaching me how to sell a good idea.

Lastly, I should point out that my labmate, Emma Tosch, the student volunteer co-chair, took over all my duties without a hitch when I needed to focus on getting my talk ready.  Emma, you rock!

Oh, one more thing--a huge thanks to both SIGPLAN and the NSF for figuring out how to fund my trip to PLDI.  This trip made me realize that there are a ton of people doing their best to bring new people into this community.

In short: great conference!  I look forward to attending next year.

* My precise thought was "even if I barf on the podium out of anxiety ..."  Of course, I did my best not to give the worst presentation ever, and no podium-barfing occured.


Well it's back to work in St. Louis and I'm missing the Portland weather already.  PLDI '15 was another great experience to add to my grad school career.  Great talks, keynotes from multiple Turing award winners, great weather, and great people all in one place; there's not much more I could ask for.  I want to thank NSF again for making my travel and that of many others possible.  Also thanks to everyone in attendance for insightful conversation and advice.  I hope to see many of you again next PLDI.

Jon Shidal


I'm now back home after attending PLDI Monday through Wednesday. Overall, I think it was a good experience, and it lived up to my previously-mentioned expectations.

The weather in Portland was great! Clear and sunny every day.
I was able to attend several really great student talks, present my talk, get some work done with collaborators, and still have a little bit of free time to wander through Portland.

It was pretty amazing being a part of FCRC. I couldn't believe how many researchers and conferences were there (2300+ people, if I understood correctly)!

Hopefully I will have an opportunity to attend PLDI again in the future! Thanks again to the NSF for the student travel funding.



Saturday, June 20, 2015

Leaving PLDI

It was a very memorable experience in Portland these past few days, and I couldn't have done it without NSF's support. The first conference talk of my graduate career went quite well; I even received some positive feedback from a number of different people who attended it. I feel good about the talk, and also very inspired to have interacted face-to-face with some very accomplished programming languages computer scientists. At the conference banquet, I discussed my current career goals and with a PLDI attendee much farther along in his career and he had some very helpful and eye-opening remarks and suggestions for me. I'm very glad and privileged to be able to take away this gained knowledge from the conference, and also to be given the opportunity to share my work with many others in the field. Overall, it was a great conference and I look forward to possibly attending next year!

Friday, June 19, 2015


Thanks for the generous support from NSF for my trip. It is really a great experience for me to attend and give talk at PLDI.  I was kind of anxious at first, worrying about the my talk. But luckily, things went smoothly finally — the talk was in general good and conveyed the high level idea of my work. Moreover, It is great to see that people are interested. And I did have a good time chatting with people and received interesting feedback.

This year’s PLDI is quite special, it comes with FCRC.  It is really amazing to have two turing lectures — one from Michael Stonebraker and one from Andrew Yao — at one single meeting. They gives different ideas of how to conduct an efficient and successful research, but both illuminating.

Overall, this trip is a very worthful experience, and I am looking forward to the next PLDI conference.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


This PLDI was an excellent experience overall. I was able to meet many new and old colleagues in the PLDI community. As a volunteer I assisted with any needs at the WAX workshop, which was very insightful. There were many interesting talks at this workshop, and I am looking forward to the authors to continue their work.

The PLDI talks were all very high quality as well. I tried to attend most of the talks, but made sure to pace myself to not get overly exhausted early on. All of the plenary speakers also had lots of insight, and it was interesting to see their perspective on what the future open problems there are for us to continue working on.

The really valuable experiences during PLDI was spending time networking with others during the lunch and dinner times. I was able to exchange business cards with many academic and industry professionals at each meal which was one of my goals. Spending time sharing my research with others also gave me many insights into how to take my project further, and many friendly suggestions were made on papers to read that may be of interest. I am very happy to have had funding provided from the NSF to attend. Attending conferences is one of the most important parts of a graduate students career, as it leads to new ideas, leads on jobs, and a chance to learn from excellent mentors outside of ones institution.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Heading to PLDI

I've made it to Portland despite some hiccups (don't go to SJC when your flight is out of SFO!) and am about to walk over to PLDI. This is my first time visiting Portland and my second time attending PLDI (I went in 2011, right before I started grad school, when it was in San Jose and Mozilla Research sent all of the Rust interns).

I'm excited to be giving the second conference talk of my career (and my first at PLDI) on the Typecoin system that my advisor and I designed. I'm also looking forward to being able to talk to people about my current research, on language memory models for low-level concurrency, and to see the large number of interesting lookup talks in that area.

I'd like to thank the NSF for the funding I needed to attend this conference!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

PLDI Eve Day Morning

After a long day of traveling from the east coast, I am happy to be here in Portland for my final conference as a student. I'm thrilled to be able to finish up my time as a student at a great conference. I am looking forward to meeting with researchers in across the several areas I work in (PL, OS, and Architecture), fellow students, and former and future colleagues. My favorite thing about FCRC is the great congregation of computer scientists across many research areas. I think we do our best work when we understand and collaborate across areas, and FCRC is a great place to do that.

I am particularly looking forward to the Turing award lecture, invited speakers, and as many PLDI talks as I can possibly attend. I am particularly eager to see talks on work I saw or reviewed as a member of this PLDI's artifact evaluation committee. Many papers at this year's PLDI are accompanied by impressive implementations, and I am eager to see and support the authors of these papers.

If you're reading this from Portland, have a great FCRC—I'm sure I will.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pre-PLDI 2015

I'm very excited to be attending PLDI 2015. This is my second time at PLDI. I was lucky enough to go to PLDI 2012 in Beijing when I was an undergraduate.  It was an excellent experience, and I learned a lot and met many people. I'm very grateful for the NSF travel support that makes it possible for me to go again.

This will be my first conference as a PhD student, and I will be giving a talk about work I did with Derek Dreyer and Viktor Vafeiadis during an internship at MPI-SWS last summer. Although I've had the chance to talk about this work at small seminars, I'm looking forward to being able to present it to a larger audience at PLDI.

One aspect of PLDI 2012 that was so enjoyable was the chance to talk to people in smaller groups about the work they had presented during some of the social events and time between talks. I'm hoping that will happen again at PLDI 2015.

I'm looking forward to meeting the other students there!


First, thanks for the travel grant support from NSF. I am very grateful for that!

I am Yufei Ding from North Carolina State University. My advisor is Dr. Xipeng Shen, and our research focuses on program optimization, input sensitivity analysis, generalized redundant computation elimination and program parallelization. With carefully designed program language and compiler support, we hope our technique could benefit more users without involving complicated programming.

This is my first time to attend the PLDI meeting. As you know, PLDI is one of the most top conference in my area. And joining this great conference with my own work "Autotuning Algorithmic Choice for Input Sensitivity" is so excited and honored. If you are interested in more details about my work, please come to my talk on Wednesday 09:40 - 10:05am.

Before Attending PLDI'15

It is very exciting that PLDI'15 is just right around the corner.

First, I am very thankful for the travel support from NSF. I believe this will greatly benefit the students who attending it, and also the whole PLDI community in the long run.

This will be the second time that I attend this flagship conference in the area of programming language and compilers, and also the second time to attend FCRC. Different from last time, I am so close the city where it will be held (I am interning at PNNL, WA). It would be a great pity if I missed it.

Even though I have not read many papers accepted this year, but only by reading the title list, I already feel super excited. This is especially true as knowing some of them are from my friends, Yufei's paper "Autotuning Algorithmic Choice for Input Sensitivity", Bin's paper "Efficient Execution of Recursive Programs on Commodity Vector Hardware", and Danfeng's paper "Diagnosing Type Errors with Class".  Congratulations to you again! I always think that attending conferences, especially top-tier ones, not only provides the opportunities to learning the cutting-edge research in my field and guiding my own research, but also offers the chances to meeting excellent people,  making great friends, and being inspired by talking with them.

Looking forward to meeting every other student who posted here!

Friday, June 12, 2015


I'm writing this post as I pack up to head off to Portland for PLDI 2015.  I'm excited to be attending FCRC again--the first time I attended PLDI was at FCRC 2011.  I was introduced to a lot of great people, some of whom I got to work with in subsequent summers, and it was a great "first conference" experience.

This year, I am serving as PLDI Student Volunteer Co-Chair with my labmate at UMass Amherst, Emma "Frank" Tosch.  We managed to gather a sizable group of students, many of whom are attending PLDI for the first time.  I hope to "pay it forward" by introducing these newcomers to our many friends at PLDI.

Lastly, I am looking forward to finally being able to talk about FlashRelate, work I did with Sumit Gulwani, Ted Hart, and Ben Zorn while I was an intern at Microsoft.  FlashRelate is a tool that lets you perform data wrangling tasks for spreadsheets without having to do any programming.  Instead, you provide sample outputs and the synthesizer brews up a data transformation automatically.  I'm rather proud of the work, because it's quite useable (ask me for a demo!), and because I inadvertently wrote my own constraint solver along the way (when your parents tell you to use Z3, just listen to them!).  My "PLDI preview talk" at IBM TJ Watson, where I am currently spending the summer, gave me the opportunity to polish the pitch a bit, so I should have the kinks worked out by Tuesday.

Come to my talk:

 See you all in Portland!


PLDI and FCRC are just a few days away and I can't be more excited.  I want to first thank NSF for the travel support to attend.  This is the second year in a row I have been able to attend PLDI, thanks to NSF.  I look forward to seeing some familiar faces and experiencing all that Portland has to offer.  Last year in Edinburgh was a blast and great learning experience, so I encourage all who may be reading this to try and attend PLDI in the near future.  I look forward to hearing about this year's most exciting new research at not only PLDI, but other co-located conferences as well.  See you all there!

PLDI is Coming

In less than a week, I'll be giving the first conference talk of my graduate career. And preparing this talk has been much more challenging than I expected. I enjoyed putting the paper together with my colleagues and explaining all of our work thoroughly and formally. I also really enjoy telling people about the work face-to-face with a casual 2-3 minute layman-term explanation. But having to navigate this in-between space of conference talk scope has been a trip! All in all, I'm excited to see how the talk goes, and hopeful that someone somewhere out there in the audience will connect deeply with our work. Beyond the presentation, I'm also really looking forward to the conference as a whole. This'll be my first time attending PLDI, and it's cool that I'll be able to cross paths with the many other people attending other conferences co-located through FCRC this year. I am genuinely greatly appreciative of the travel support from NSF towards my attendance to the conference. I feel very privileged to be financially able to attend and present and am grateful for the opportunity.

Pre-PLDI Post

The Programming Language Design and Implementation 2015 (PLDI) is just less than one week away. This year I am planning to attend because of the travel grant support from NSF. I am very grateful for that.

My name is Hao Luo from University of Rochester. My research focuses on program's locality analysis, which is a topic that spans multiple fields from programming languages to computer architecture. I think there are at least two folds of benefit of attending PLDI.

  1. By attending PLDI, I can learn the state of the arts in the PL field and incorporate that knowledge in my own work. I am particularly interested in how to design programming models and employ program analysis techniques to optimize program's memory performance. In particular, the paper "Autotuning Algorithmic Choice for Input Sensitivity" by Ding et. al. is very much related to my work. Being able to attend the conference grants me an opportunity to talk with the authors and potentially draw inspiration from their success.
  2. Attending PLDI is also a golden opportunity to establish network. PLDI is a top conference where one will meet many excellent active researchers in the PL field. There is no better place than PLDI where I can find research collaborations.
I am looking forward to this trip and very excited to meet you there in Portland!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hello from Boulder

Hi everyone! I'm Jedidiah ("Jed") McClurg, a second-year Ph.D. student in the PL and Verification group at the University of Colorado Boulder. This will be my first time at PLDI, and I'm very excited for the opportunity to attend. It's great that there are many other students attending! I'm hoping to meet some of you at the conference.

If you're interested, I will be giving a talk on Tuesday at 9:15am. The paper is "Efficient Synthesis of Network Updates", and it's about an approach for automatically synthesizing correct software-defined network (SDN) programs. You can also check out the video abstract for more info.

The things I'm most looking forward to at the conference are
  1. meeting people, discussing possibilities for future collaborations, chatting with current collaborators, and
  2. learning more about the exciting topics at PLDI (I'm especially interested in program synthesis, so I hope to attend many/all of those talks).
Last but not least, I want to say that I'm very grateful for the NSF conference travel support.

See you all in Portland!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Looking forward to PLDI

PLDI is just around the corner and I'm very much looking forward to it. This year, I am serving as a student volunteer, which I hope will be a fun opportunity to meet a lot of new students in the programming languages community while helping to keep everything running smoothly.

I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to discuss my research with other attendees. I have a paper in the conference this year, "Exploring and Enforcing Security Guarantees via Program Dependence Graphs," but I'm also looking forward to sharing some of my research that was presented  in other venues. For example, last year I presented a new secure shell scripting language I developed at OSDI. This language explores exciting applications of programming language ideas to security.

There are also some very exciting papers in the program this year. In particular, I'm excited about the paper "Lightweight, Flexible Object-Oriented Generics," which explores a new, expressive model of generic programming that combines ideas from existing object-oriented and functional programming languages.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


I am very excited to be attending PLDI for the first time as a Ph.D. student. I had previously done so in 2013 as a masters student, and enjoyed the experience very much.  The support from the NSF is very much appreciated, as the conferences and workshops at this event are where I currently research.

I am very much looking forward to two components of PLDI. The first is that I will have a chance to sit on many great talks.  Being able to sit in on several talks a day and see the authors with their work is a great privilege. I am hoping this will also give me insights into what literature I can spend time reading after the conference. Secondly, I am also serving as a volunteer for this years PLDI. I look forward to being able to perform service for the greater community, as well as network and connect with other PLDI volunteers. I think having a system available for current students to do this is highly beneficially, as we will all be future colleagues.

When I return from this conference, I hope to be even more energized to continue my research. I am also going to make it a goal to follow up with colleagues that I meet, take physical notes from the talks I attend, and also leave myself (business cards) available to continue discussing with others new ideas.

Before my first PLDI

Although there're more than one week before PLDI, I'm already very excited about it.  Also, getting travel support from NSF is really helpful, and both my advisor and I am happy about it.

As a second-year PhD student at Penn, I've been doing research on making writing&debugging parallel programs easier.  I always consider PLDI a great conference where experts in programming languages share their amazing work & ideas, and I long for getting inspired at Portland a week later.

I am also very interested in the following tutorials: (1) PINPLAY: Using PinPlay for Reproducible Analysis and Replay Debugging   and (2) Machine Learning for Code Analytics.   I hope to have a pleasant day for these tutorials.

Besides, I am in the SRC this year and will present a poster about our current work on reducing metadata redundancy in sound&complete race detection.  I look forward to talking to all the people interested in this topic!