I listened to more than 70 talks

Written by Hiroki Oshikawa
Published: 2016-11-01 (last updated: 2016-11-01)

Hi, I'm Hiroki Oshikawa, junior at The University of Tokyo. I participated in ICFP 2016 as a student volunteer. This is a post-conference blog post.

I attended Higher-Order Programming with Effects, the main conference, ML workshop, and OCaml workshop. I listened to more than 70 talks. They included many topics from theoretical subjects to a specific programming language feature. To be honest, some of them were so difficult that I couldn't follow at all. However, every talk let me feel the atmosphere of state-of-the-art programming language researches and related fields.

One of the most impressive talks for me was All Sorts of Permutations (preprint, video) by Sandra Dylus at the first day of the main conference. The paper says that any sort function can be converted to a function that enumerates permutations when combined with a non-deterministic predicate. This is essentially proved by the free theorems, which state general properties of parametric polymorphic functions.

This paper's result is a kind of functional programming technique (in fact, it was accepted as Functional Pearls), but it is guaranteed by abstract theorems. I found this interesting because it seemed a good example of feeling the relationship between theory and practice.

I also enjoyed programming language workshops. It was a lot of fun to listen to talks about new language features or new libraries. I was happy to get OCaml stickers and a cute T shirts.

Social activity, such as Student Volunteers’ dinner, was also exiting. I could talk with many students from around the world. Since most of them were graduated students, I could ask them about what I am interesting and future careers and their answers were helpful.

Finally, about Student Volunteer jobs. I was asked to serve drinks during breaks and help registration desk. They were not so hard. Organizers let us be as free as possible and I could listen to all talks in which I was interested. So, I recommend students who are interested in ICFP to apply the Student Volunteer!