Archive for the ‘Talks’ Category.

Danke sehr!

(A version of this article also appeared on the CACM blog.)

Miracles happen!

Many months ago I accepted, perhaps too fast, a kind invitation to talk at the European Computer Science Summit, the annual conference of Informatics Europe, this week in Vienna. It came with a catch: I was not to choose my own topic but to talk on an imposed theme, ethics in relation to computer science.

As the summer advanced, I became increasingly worried about the talk. What was I going to say? For a nerd, an invited lecture on a free topic is easy: talk about how alias analysis makes automatic frame inference possible, explain the bizarre mixture of the best and worst in agile methods, present a simple method of concurrent programming, describe an environment enabling common mortals to prove programs correct, reflect on our 13-year experience of teaching programming and the supporting MOOCs, and so on. All straightforward stuff which one can present in one’s sleep. But ethics!

The summer receded, but the worry did not. What in the world would I talk about?

And then!

From the deepest of my heart: thank you, Volkswagen.

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Agile methods: follow-up webinar and discussion

After my earlier ACM Webinar on Agile Methods! The Good, the Hype and the Ugly there were so many questions from the audience, left unanswered for lack of time, that a follow-up session has been set up. It will take place tomorrow (Friday, 27 March 2015) at noon New York time (18 Paris/Berlin/Zurich, 5 PM London etc.). Like the first one it is free and you can find the registration information here.

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Understanding and assessing Agile: free ACM webinar next Wednesday

ACM is offering this coming Wednesday a one-hour webinar entitled Agile Methods: The Good, the Hype and the Ugly. It will air on February 18 at 1 PM New York time (10 AM West Coast, 18 London, 19 Paris, see here for more cities). The event is free and the registration link is here.

The presentation is based on my recent book with an almost identical title [1]. It will be a general discussion of agile methods, analyzing both their impressive contributions to software engineering and their excesses, some of them truly damaging. It is often hard to separate the beneficial from the indifferent and the plain harmful, because most of the existing presentations are of the hagiographical kind, gushing in admiration of the sacred word. A bit of critical distance does not hurt.

As you can see from the Amazon page, the first readers (apart from a few dissenters, not a surprise for such a charged topic) have relished this unprejudiced, no-nonsense approach to the presentation of agile methods.

Another characteristic of the standard agile literature is that it exaggerates the contrast with classic software engineering. This slightly adolescent attitude is not helpful; in reality, many of the best agile ideas are the direct continuation of the best classic ideas, even when they correct or adapt them, a normal phenomenon in technology evolution. In the book I tried to re-place agile ideas in this long-term context, and the same spirit will also guide the webinar. Ideological debates are of little interest to software practitioners; what they need to know is what works and what does not.


[1] Bertrand Meyer, Agile! The Good, the Hype and the Ugly, Springer, 2014, see Amazon page here, publisher’s page here and my own book page here.

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LASER 2014 (Elba, September)

2014 marks the 10-th anniversary (11th edition) of the LASER summer school. The school will be held September 7-14, 2014, and the detailed information is here.

LASER (the name means Laboratory for Applied Software Engineering Research) is dedicated to practical software engineering. The roster of speakers since we started is a who’s who of innovators in the field. Some of the flavor of the school can gathered from the three proceedings volumes published in Springer LNCS (more on the way) or simply by browsing the pages of the schools from previous years.

Usually we have a theme, but to mark this anniversary we decided to go for speakers first; we do have a title, “Leading-Edge Software Engineering”, but broad enough to encompass a wide variety of a broad range of topics presented by star speakers: Harald Gall, Daniel Jackson, Michael Jackson, Erik Meijer (appearing at LASER for the third time!), Gail Murphy and Moshe Vardi. With such a cast you can expect to learn something important regardless of your own primary specialty.

LASER is unique in its setting: a 5-star hotel in the island paradise of Elba, with outstanding food and countless opportunities for exploring the marvelous land, the beaches, the sea, the geology (since antiquity Elba has been famous for its stones and minerals) and the history, from the Romans to Napoleon, who in the 9 months of his reign changed the island forever. The school is serious stuff (8:30 to 13 and 17 to 20 every day), but with enough time to enjoy the surroundings.

Registration is open now.

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Talks in coming months


Here is a list of some presentations I am scheduled to give in the near future. Time for the faithful followers of this blog to start organizing groupie trips and get ready to haggle with the ticket scalpers and queue up at 3 AM for the best seats.

On May 9 I will give a talk in Paris, at Valtech, on the topic “Eiffel: Objects, Languages, Concurrency” [1]. It will be a general overview talk (in French) describing the key concepts of the Eiffel method and new developments.

On May 17 I will give a keynote at the Russian conference on IT education [2]. I haven’t sent a title and abstract yet but will talk about our experience of teaching introductory programming at ETH, now for 9 years, supported by the Touch of Class textbook which is now available in Russian. The talk itself will be in Russian.

On Tuesday, 29 May, I will give a keynote at TOOLS EUROPE in Prague [2]. This is the 50th TOOLS conference, a milestone, and I will talk on the theme of the conference, “The Triumph of Objects”, to assess the impact of object technology on the field of IT.

I am also giving a keynote at MSEPT (Multicore Software Engineering, Performance and Tools) the same week, on May 31. MSEPT [4] is co-located with TOOLS in Prague. The title of my presentation is “Concurrent Programming is Easy” and I will in particular present new developments in the SCOOP model and our first steps in the Concurrency Made Easy ERC Advanced Investigator Project. In addition I will be participating in two Eiffel-related workshops at TOOLS, WAVE on Advances in Verification for Eiffel, May 29 [5], where we are submitting several papers, and the third “Eiffel Web Design Feast” on May 30, part of a community project that is building an Eiffel-based Web development framework [6].

On June 5 I am giving an invited talk at the New Faculty Symposium of ICSE (International Conference on Software Engineering) in Zurich [7]. The title (assigned by the organizers) is “Promoting your ideas”. I did warn the organizers that this would be a contrarian talk as I find the current computer science publication culture in need of a reboot — this is the goal of the November Dagstuhl workshop mentioned below — but they said it was OK; I might even have heard the word “welcome” at some point.

On June 12 I will deliver a keynote at the International Conference on Reliable Software Technologies, also known as Ada-Europe, in Stockholm  [8]. The Ada community remains significant and is becoming interested in contracts, hence the subject of my talk: Life with Contracts. I will summarize the experience gained in applying Design by Contract as a core principle throughout development, and the next steps in developing the approach.

On June 24 I am  on one of the two panels at the Alan Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester [9]; the panel is entitled The Big Questions in Computation, Intelligence and Life.

In Seattle, 16-20 July, I look forward to presenting our latest verification ideas to the other members of the IFIP Working Group 2.3 on programming methodology [10]; this is the toughest and most unforgiving audience I know, but their feedback has always proved invaluable.

The next set of talks (apart from a possible presentation at the Snowbird conference in July, which I haven’t confirmed yet) is at our LASER summer school in Elba, September 2-8 [11], where I will deliver a set of lectures entitled Eiffel: a study in language design and evolution; it will be an in-depth discussion of issues that arise in devising a quality-focused programming language and managing its continued refinement over a long period, focusing on a few key design principles.

A few weeks later, on September 26, in Natal, I will present a keynote at the Brazilian software engineering conference, SBES [12]. I will talk about concurrency again, hoping of course to have new results to showcase by then.

Another event in which I am involved and expect to give a presentation is a Dagstuhl “Perspectives” workshop on the Publication Culture in Computer Science, November 6-9 [13]. The workshop was set up on the initiative of Moshe Vardi and I am one of the organizers. There is a widespread feeling that the publication model of computer science is broken; a number of articles in this blog have discussed the issues. At Dagstuhl we hope to be able to start fixing the process. Stay tuned.


[1] Talk at Valtech, 9 May 2012, information here.

[2] 10th All-Russian conference on IT education, Moscow, 16-18 May 2012, conference page here.

[3] TOOLS Europe 2012, Prague, 28 May – 1 June 2012, conference page here.

[4] MSEPT: International Conference on Multicore Software Engineering, Performance, and Tools, Prague, 31 May – June 1, 2012, conference page here.

[5] Workshop on Advances in Verification for Eiffel (WAVE), Prague, 29 May 2012, workshop page here.

[6] Eiffel Web Design Feast, Prague, 30 May 2012, call for participation available here.

[7] New Faculty Symposium at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), Zurich, 5 June 2012, symposium page here.

[8] 17th International Conference on Reliable Software Technologies (Ada Europe 2012), Stockholm, 11-15 June 2012, conference page here.

[9] Alan Turing Centenary Conference, Manchester, 11-25 June 2012, conference page here.

[10] IFIP TC2-WG2.3 (Working group on Programming Methodology), group page here (meetings by invitation only).

[11] LASER summer school 2012, Innovative Languages for Software Engineering, 2-8 September 2012 (other speakers are Andrei Alexandrescu on D, Roberto Ierusalimschy on Lua, Ivar Jacobson on UML and SEMAT, Eric Meijer on C# and Linq, Martin Odersky on Scala, Simon Peyton-Jones on Haskell, and Guido van Rossum on Python; school page here.

[12] XXVI Brazilian Symposium on Software Engineering (SBES), part of CBSoft (3rd Brazilian Conference on Software: Theory and Practice), Natal, 23-28 September 2012, symposium page here.

[13] Perspectives Workshop: Publication Culture in Computing Research (by invitation), Dagstuhl, 6-9 November 2012, workshop page here.

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