Friday, October 30, 2009

I have been assaulted... a fan !

Just back from TSS Java Symposium Europe, while waiting for my bags at CDG airport, a total stranger pounced on me:

"I saw your presentation in Prague, it was great, wonderful, so exciting, definitely the best thing that happened to Java since its creation more than a decade ago. Oh, and did I mention your were awesome?!"

Whoaa!!! This was great for my self-esteem. My cardiologist, my wife and myself owe you a big thank you.

My presentation about Ateji Parallel Extensions was met with two extremely opposite reactions: either totally intrigued, all ears for the whole duration. Or totally lost, pulling "what an earth is this all about and what am I doing here?" type faces.

I'll need to improve on the tutorial aspect of this talk. There was definitely strong interest in the audience, as I could see from the large number of questions.

The Server Side Java Symposium Europe 2009 in Prague was overall a great experience. It was rather orientated, well, "server-side" a world that I'm not that much familiar with. Lots of boring guys who try to make software actually work rather than just hacking the JVM for the fun of it. I loved the bits about practical static analysis and performance tuning.

Other highlights were the "dinner with strangers" (not by the end), and hands-on pair programming. It was my first time, we had 30 minutes to write a method that sums factors and we hopelessly failed -- let's blame it on the Czech brandy. But I'll definitely try pair programming again with my team.

But the best bit was Neal Ford introducing my presentation in his opening keynote speech!

The topic was "Predicting the future". Well, first try learning lessons from the past: he began with a picture of a blacksmith in 1890. The best trade at the time, the career that you would recommend to your own children. But within 20 years there were no more blacksmiths.

The biggest change happening now in software is the requirement to write parallel code, and he drew an analogy between the 1890 blacksmith and today's Java developer. In short, better become fluent in parallel programming right now or find another career.

He hinted that we will all need to battle with learning new languages (probably of the functional kind: Haskell, F#, etc.) if we want to survive the transition to parallel programming, whether we like it or not.

The good news is that he was wrong: Ateji Parallel Extensions adds parallelism to your favourite language and doesn't require you to go back to school.

Neal also insisted on the importance of language and notation, and even dared to mention the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I understand his talk as proof that common wisdom about the importance of language is gradually changing. That I was on the right track four years ago when I founded Ateji in order to promote and develop language design and language technology.

Neal concluded "The best way to predict the future is to create it". This is precisely what we're doing at Ateji. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

calcium said...

Parallel models are implemented in several ways: as libraries invoked from traditional sequential languages, as language extensions, or complete new execution models. They are also roughly categorized for two kinds of systems: shared-memory system and distributed-memory system, though the lines between them are largely blurred nowadays.