Presentation: "Classes, Jim, But Not as We Know Them."

Time: Tuesday 09:00 - 09:45

Location: Store Sal


Haskell is a purely functional language designed in the early 90's, whose centre of gravity used to be academic, but which is increasingly used for commercial applications. One of Haskell's most distinctive features is its type system, especially so-called "type classes". Type classes serve a similar purpose to the classes of mainstream OO languages, but in a completely different way. As OOP languages acquire generics and, more recently, constrained polymorphism - both informed by their counterparts in functional languages - the comparison has become more interesting.

In this talk I'll sketch how type classes work, and contrast them with OOP classes. In so doing, I hope to give a somewhat new perspective on your familiar territory, and just possibly some ideas of what the future might hold. I'll give lots of examples, so you don't have to know Haskell.

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Simon Peyton-Jones, Co-creator of Haskell

 Simon  Peyton-Jones

He is co-creator of Haskell, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge and thus; one of those who shapes the languages that you will be using in the future.

Simon Peyton Jones has a MA, MBCS, CEng and graduated from Trinity College Cambridge in 1980. After two years in industry, he spent seven years as a lecturer at University College London and nine years as a professor at Glasgow University. He is an Honorary Professor of the Computer Science Department at Glasgow University.

Simon Peyton Jones is mainly interested in functional programming languages, their implementation, and their application. In practical terms, that means he spends most of his time on the design and implementation of Haskell. In particular the Glasgow Haskell Compiler, and its ramifications. He has led a succession of research projects focused around the design and implementation of production-quality functional-language systems for both uniprocessors and parallel machines. He was a key contributor to the design of the now-standard functional language Haskell, and is the lead designer of the widely-used Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC). He has written two textbooks about the implementation of functional languages.

More generally, Simon Peyton Jones is interested in language design, rich type systems, software component architectures, compiler technology, code generation, runtime systems, virtual machines, and garbage collection. He is particularly motivated by direct use of principled theory to practical language design and implementation - that's one reason he loves functional programming so much.