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IBM R&D Labs in Israel News

Speaking in tongues

Haifa PLDE seminar looks at the origin and future of programming languages

  Gabi Zodik, Gilad Bracha, and
  Yishai Feldman at PLDE 2010
Sometimes, to figure out where we want to go, we have to look back and see where we've been.

The recent IBM Haifa 2010 Programming Languages and Development Environments Seminar (PLDE 2010) did just that when it brought together more than one hundred IT professionals and software researchers to discuss the current state-of-the-art in software engineering.

The main direction of PLDE 2010 was set by the two keynote talks at the event, delivered by a couple of the more significant figures behind two extremely popular programming languages, Java and PHP. In their talks, Gilad Bracha and Zeev Suraski explained some of the challenges that existed in the early days of the languages and how both PHP and Java are evolving to meet the software engineering challenges of the 21st century.

Focusing on language

Haifa researcher Yishai Feldman, who served as one of the co-organizers of the annual event, explained that this focus was no accident.

"For several years, the PLDE has brought together the best of Israel's software researchers and developers," he explained. "We thought it would be interesting this year to hear from a couple of our fellow Israelis who helped develop two very popular languages and see what conclusions we could draw together about how to move forward in programming design."

Java and PHP insights

A former Distinguished Engineer at Cadence and Sun, Bracha is co-author of the Java Language Specification and a researcher in the area of object-oriented programming languages. In his talk, he examined Java based on the past fifteen years of its use. He highlighted some of the major considerations of programming language design relative to Java, and explained how some of the lessons learned are being implemented in Newspeak, a language he authored that uses interface-based programming as one of its guiding principles.

  IBMer Aharon Abadi presenting at
  the PLDE poster session
In his address, Zeev Suraski, the cofounder and CTO of Zend Technologies and a co-architect of PHP, described his involvement in PHP development. Calling it "the most popular web language worldwide," Zeev described how PHP went from almost a hobbyists' tool to the ubiquitous programming platform with large vendor support that it is today.

In addition to the keynotes, the seminar featured a number of other interesting talks that focused on programming languages and associated issues. For the first time ever, the PLDE seminar included a special fast presentation session, known as PLDE Madness. Speakers, most of whom were also presenting posters and demos in the day's poster session, gave five-minute presentations that expressed quick ideas or concepts that were later expanded in their posters.

"The PLDE is always an eclectic seminar, and this year was no exception," Feldman summed things up. "We had broad participation from software developers and researchers from around Israel, from universities, independent software vendors, and big corporate developers. The diverse community of software professionals who attend really gives the event its unique flavor."

Software engineering in HRL

Led by DGM Gabi Zodik, the IBM Research - Haifa Software and Services Department develops software technologies to exploit advances in computing infrastructure that benefit both traditional IT businesses as well as the system engineering and embedded software development space.

  PLDE 2010 pix on Facebook

Find HRL on Facebook to see more photos from the 2010 PLDE Leadership Seminar.