[r6rs-discuss] My vote
David Van Horn
dvanhorn at ccs.neu.edu
Thu Feb 19 01:06:35 EST 2009
For what it is worth.
Executive summary: Olin Shivers, William D Clinger,
R. Kent Dybvig / Marc Feeley.
Remember: Voting ends 12:00 GMT on 23 February 2009.
There are numerous qualified Steering Committee nominees from which to
choose. But in my opinion, we can only hope to approximate the
quality of our current committee.
The current committee consists of esteemed senior members of the
community. They have long records of contributions to the Scheme
language and to programming language design and theory, in general.
The scientific literature collectively produced by the previous three
members is astounding in volume and impact. It represents some of the
best and most influential work in the field.
Some other fairly obvious things to note about the last committee:
- between the three of them, they enjoyed institutional support to
spend time on Scheme and programming language design and theory.
They served on the Steering Committee, which is time consuming
itself, but also (in Wand's case) served on the Scheme and
Functional Programming Workshop steering committee, (in the case of
Wand and Steele) supervised or read Scheme-related PhD
dissertations, and participated in the larger PL community by
serving on the premiere PL conference program committees (Wand,
ICFP'08; Wand and Steele POPL'09) and editorial boards (Wand and
- all three were located in the greater Boston area.
- all three have technical training (above and beyond the PhD level)
in programming languages.
So I would hope that the future committee shares some of these
At least two choices are easy for me:
- Olin Shivers
- William D Clinger
Both have long records of contributions and seminal research. Both
would (and do) enjoy institutional support for time spent on Scheme,
engaging our community, and engaging the larger scientific community.
Both are active programming language researchers; they write grants,
they supervise PhD students, they publish papers, and they consume
large amounts of the research literature. This is their job. Clinger
has been an RRS editor since at least R3RS, up to just shy of R6RS.
He was the program chair for the 2008 Scheme Workshop, and both he and
Shivers are on the workshop's steering committee. Both are located in
the greater Boston area; in fact their offices are two or three doors
from each other. Both are surrounded by a sea of Schemers, providing
an intellectually rich and stimulating environment. (That environment
includes, among others, Mitch Wand, a current Steering Committee
member.) So in my mind, Shivers and Clinger are uniquely positioned
and qualified for this job. Voting for them seems obvious to me.
Less obvious is a third candidate.
R. Kent Dybvig and Marc Feeley enjoy all the properties of Shivers and
Clinger, save locality. Dybvig is an Associate Editor at HOSC, an RRS
editor since at least R3RS, and author of TSPL. Feeley is on the
program committee for ICFP'09 and is a Scheme workshop steering
committee member. Both are authors of important research papers and
Scheme implementations. Both enjoy the same kind of institutional
support as that of Clinger and Shivers. Both are professional
researchers, they supervise PhD students, they write grants, etc. In
other words, were they to live in Boston, they would be equally
Jonathan A Rees is a Boston-based nominee. He is engaged in the
research community, though less so than the nominees mentioned above.
Rees was on the Scheme Workshop 2008 program committee and has been an
RRS editor since at least R3RS through R5RS. So far as I can tell, he
is not currently a professional programming languages researcher,
although his PhD is in PL. It is unclear what kind of institutional
support he would receive.
I would be happy with a committee made up of any of the nominees I
have discussed (and some that I haven't), but I think research
engagement and institutional support beat out locality for a final
third member, so I will likely vote for Shivers, Clinger, and either
Dybvig or Feeley. I don't know of any reason to choose Dybvig over
Feeley or vice versa. Both would make excellent committee members in
my opinion. I may flip a coin. I may collude with my colleagues. I
just don't know.
This is an unapologetically academic perspective. I have chosen to
vote for the most prominent and currently active researchers.
Scientific funding fuels language research, innovation, and the
man-years necessary to make Scheme a viable and beautiful programming
language. This is the way it has always been with Scheme. On the
other hand, Scheme is on the decline in the research community. To
see evidence of this, one only needs to look at the dwindling number
of Scheme papers at the top research conferences, or compare the
attendance of the Scheme workshop to that of, say, Haskell's. We need
to breathe life back into Scheme research. I hope a highly qualified
and active steering committee can help do this.
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