Strange Loop

Next: September 12-14 2019

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Stifel Theatre

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St. Louis, MO

Everything Old is New Again: Quoted Domain Specific Languages

We describe a new approach to domain specific languages (DSLs), called Quoted DSLs (QDSLs), that resurrects two old ideas: quotation, from McCarthy's Lisp of 1960, and the subformula property, from Gentzen's natural deduction of 1935. Quoted terms allow the DSL to share the syntax and type system of the host language. Normalising quoted terms ensures the subformula property, which guarantees that one can use higher-order types in the source while guaranteeing first-order types in the target, and enables using types to guide fusion. We test our ideas by improving language-integrated query for F#, and by re-implementing the signal-processing language Feldspar in Haskell.

Language-integrated query is receiving renewed attention, in part because of its support through Microsoft's LINQ framework. Our reimplementation supports abstraction over values and predicates, composition of queries, dynamic generation of queries, and queries with nested intermediate data. Higher-order features prove useful even for constructing first-order queries. We prove that normalisation always succeeds in translating any query of flat relation type to SQL. We present experimental results confirming our technique works, even in situations where Microsoft's LINQ framework either fails to produce an SQL query or, in one case, produces an avalanche of SQL queries.

The talk is based on material in the two papers below.

  1. A practical theory of language-integrated query. ICFP 2013.
  2. Everything old is new again. Draft paper.

Philip Wadler

University of Edinburgh

Philip Wadler is Professor of Theoretical Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh. He is an ACM Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, past chair of ACM SIGPLAN, past holder of a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Fellowship, and a winner of the POPL Most Influential Paper Award. Previously, he worked or studied at Stanford, Xerox Parc, CMU, Oxford, Chalmers, Glasgow, Bell Labs, and Avaya Labs, and visited as a guest professor in Copenhagen, Sydney, and Paris. He has an h-index of 60, with more than 18,000 citations to his work according to Google Scholar. He contributed to the designs of Haskell, Java, and XQuery, and is a co-author of Introduction to Functional Programming (Prentice Hall, 1988), XQuery from the Experts (Addison Wesley, 2004) and Generics and Collections in Java (O'Reilly, 2006). He has delivered invited talks in locations ranging from Aizu to Zurich.