Along with Nate Foster and Talia Ringer, I’m organizing the Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop, or PLMW, in conjunction with the International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP) next month. PLMW is a series of workshops designed to encourage people to pursue careers in programming languages (PL) research. This edition of PLMW will be held on August 23, the day before the main ICFP conference, and we have a wonderful lineup of talks that will inform, enlighten, entertain, and inspire:

There are no duds in this lineup. The entire thing is going to be, as the kids say, 🔥.

PLMW is free, but you need to apply and be accepted in order to participate fully. Fortunately, applying is easy. The deadline to apply is August 8; here’s the application form. You may already be convinced to apply, but if you’re not yet convinced, keep reading!

Who is PLMW for?

PLMW is aimed at people who are curious about getting involved in PL research, or who are at the beginning of a PL research career. Quoting from the workshop web page:

The Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop is designed to broaden the exposure of attendees to research and career opportunities in the field of programming languages. Most attendees are late-stage undergraduate students and early-stage graduate students. The workshop program will include technical sessions that cover both the history and current practice of core subfields within programming languages, mentoring sessions that cover effective habits for navigating the research landscape, and social sessions that create opportunities for attendees to interact with researchers in the field. The workshop aims to engage attendees in a process of imagining how they might contribute to our research community.

We hold PLMW in conjunction with conferences like ICFP. Conferences are the beating heart of the PL research community, but if you’re new to the community or trying to break in, they can be intimidating, not to mention expensive. PLMW aims to address both problems: the workshop takes place on the day before the main conference program and helps attendees get acclimated so they can get the most out of the rest of the conference, and the accompanying scholarship program pays attendees’ way to the conference.

Of course, this year, for obvious reasons, ICFP is going to be held online. Having the conference online means that attending isn’t as much of a financial burden as it would normally be: nobody will have to pay to travel to the conference, and registration, while not free, is much less expensive than usual.1 But the lack of a physical meeting arguably makes it even harder for new people to get integrated into the community, making this aspect of PLMW even more important than usual. So, until we can hold conferences in person again, we’re doing online versions of PLMW.

PLMW is for anyone who is interested – or who thinks they might be interested – in pursuing a career in programming languages research. All you have to do to apply is fill out a form, which takes about twenty minutes.2 You don’t need to have any special qualifications – you only need to be someone who is interested in, or curious about, working in programming languages research. It doesn’t cost anything to attend, and we’ll cover the cost of your ICFP registration, too.

We’ll accept as many applicants as we can accommodate. We plan to live-stream all the talks, so anyone will be able to tune in, but we’ll also have some stuff that will be exclusively for registered participants, which is why you should definitely apply!

But you don’t have to take my word for it!

PLMW has been a fixture of POPL, PLDI, SPLASH, and ICFP for several years now, and I’ve done a lot of exhorting people to apply to attend past PLMWs. I’m not sure if my exhortations have ever had much of an effect, but this time they asked me to help organize the thing, so I redoubled my efforts: I went out and got testimonials from a bunch of past PLMW attendees to try and convince you of the value of going.3

The testimonials, which are from Alejandro Serrano, Paulette Koronkevich, Yunjeong Lee, David Justo, and Heidi Howard, are on the PLMW @ ICFP 2020 web page. They are all really good, and you should go read them in their entirety and then apply!

  1. PLMW attendees won’t have to worry about paying even this lower-than-usual registration fee; if your PLMW application is accepted, we’ll cover your registration fee. 

  2. If you’re reading this post sometime later than August 8, 2020, then the application form linked from this page will be closed, but don’t worry – you can apply to another PLMW at a later SIGPLAN conference! Look for PLMW at the next POPL, PLDI, SPLASH, and/or ICFP

  3. Thanks to Michael Coblenz for suggesting that I get some testimonials for the web page.