There are actually some amazing undergraduates!

Written by Zirun Zhu
Published: 2016-10-20 (last updated: 2016-10-20)

Hi, my name is Zirun Zhu, a PhD student from Sokendai (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies) doing research on bidirectional transformations. It was my pleasure to serve as a student volunteer for ICFP 2016 and had a wonderful time there.

The speakers at the main conference had drawn the research trends and many cutting-edge technologies. Although the topics differed, most of them were about type theory (as expected), and applications of type theory. Of course the main conference of ICFP and the following workshops were quite interesting (particularly the functional pearls), but I want to place emphasis on a pre-event called PLWM, which is really helpful for new research students.

The talks about how to write good research papers and how to give an outstanding conference talk really impressed me. (Well, I had never attended any writing or presentation classes before.) I like the following two points for writing research papers suggested by the former talk:

  1. introduce the idea by concrete examples.
  2. put related work to the end of the paper — as they argued: you can only compare the works deeply after introducing your research!

The latter talk made me come to know that, the purpose of the paper presentation at the conference is to make audience interested in your paper — which, however, I think is a pity. Speakers might be able to deliver more technical details, if they could have more time. (There is also a similar problem for conference papers: the page limit. As a result, some authors can only put important typing rules and proofs to the appendix.) But anyway, I need to learn to give such talks since the time limits are always there.

For PLMW, I thought the best tutorial talk was the one introducing operational semantics. The talk itself was very clear and I learnt some new operational semantics (SOS semantics and reduction semantics) I had not heard before.

In addition, through ICFP I had met many outstanding students, got to know their research, and been inspired by their devotion to the research. (There are actually some amazing undergraduates! :-) )