IFIP Working Group on Programming Language Design

June 28, 2011

Last year at SPLASH 2010 in Reno a group of programming language designers from academia and industry came together to discuss the creation of group to provide a forum for discussing language design at a much earlier stage than our conferences allow. Earlier this month we held our inaugural meeting hosted by Google in Mountain View with a great collection of language designers.

Today Jonathan Edwards and I (as secretary and chair, respectively, of the group) presented to the IFIP TC2 committee meeting at ETH in Zurich the proposal for the formation of a Working Group on Programming Language Design to join the existing TC2 working groups.

We are happy to report that the committee approved the formation of the working group

Quoting from the proposal:

Aim: To explore and evaluate new ideas in programming language design. Our stance is that programming languages are foremost a medium for expressing the structure and intention of software, and communicating these to other programmers. As such human factors must weigh heavily in language design decisions, requiring a well-judged balance between conflicting goals that are qualitative in nature.


  • exploring programming paradigms and major language features, both established and novel;
  • co-designing programming environments with such language features;
  • articulating more clearly the problems of programming that language features are designed to address;
  • identifying key design decisions that balance conflicting goals such as usability, expressivity, and the ability to provide tool support
  • combining experiences and perspectives from the full spectrum of language paradigms and communities;
  • conversing at a conceptual level that practicing language designers find useful, not restricted to mathematical formalisms or empirical hypotheses;
  • meta-discussion of techniques for evaluating language design decisions;
  • promulgating the appreciation of design considerations among researchers, practitioners, students, and teachers.