2003 Lightweight Languages Workshop notes

Joe and I went to the Lightweight Languages Workshop at MIT this past Saturday. In short, a bunch of nerds got together for the entire day to talk about stuff like haskell, lisp, lua, scheme, and boundaries. If you’re at all interested, you can watch the webcasts (which are of surprisingly good quality) in Real Media or Windows Media here and Joe wrote up his notes already. I’m behind a bit, so here’s mine a couple days late.

The initial session “Toward a LL Testing Framework for Large Distributed Systems” was especially interesting to me for a couple reasons: a) it was based on technology deployed for DARPA called UltraLog, b) ultralog is an “… ultra-survivable multi-agent society” and c) it uses Jabber, Python and Ruby. Specifically, they used the above technologies to enable them to get an up close and personal look at how their entire system (in this case 1000′s of agents) was performing. Said another way, they created a way to quickly and unobtrusively gather information from a variety of datapoints while the program is running. If you have a single website on 1 server, this problem doesn’t matter to you much. But imagine a system of 5000 servers (which is something I was asked to imagine this past Monday, more on that at a later time). An application running on 5000 servers would generate an unuseable amount of information; simple logging statements won’t help you. I’m rambling though. The interesting takeaway from all this is the idea of creating instrumentation for your applications [google search for 'code instrumentation'].

URLs harvested from the other sessions:

· Web Authoring System Haskell (WASH)

· XS: Lisp on Lego MindStorms

· the idea of continuations, where:

def foo(x):
  return x+1

becomes:

def foo(x,c):
  c(x+1)

· dynamic proxies [googled] [javaworld.com] [onjava.com]

· The Great Computer Language Shootout

· lua: embeddable in C/C++, Java, Fortran, Ruby, OPL, C#…. runs in Palm OS, Brew, Playstation II, XBox and Symbian.

· c minus minus

· scheme

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