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ICFP 2020
Thu 20 - Fri 28 August 2020

What is PLMW?

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.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! Here’s what some past PLMW attendees say…

"I attended my first PLMW in 2017, having previously taken one programming languages course. I definitely did not understand most of the technical talks given at PLMW. However, since the talks introduced different areas of research, I felt much more prepared for the ICFP research talks. I also met many of my current friends in my peer group at PLMW; friends I still see today at various conferences.

My experience at PLMW greatly influenced my path since then. I've attended every ICFP since 2017 and gave a talk at the co-located Scheme Workshop in 2019. The talk I gave was better because of the helpful tips from Derek Dreyer's talk during my first PLMW. I also applied to graduate school with a special interest in compiler correctness because of Amal Ahmed's talk during this same PLMW. I am currently finishing my first year of my Master's/PhD program researching type preserving compilation because of PLMW (and ICFP in general, as I met my current advisor at ICFP 2018)."
— Paulette Koronkevich, graduate student, University of British Columbia

"I went to PLMW at the end of my 5-year degree in mathematics and computer science, at the time when I was pondering whether academia — and more concretely PL — was for me. It helped me fight my biggest two fears at that moment: is there a good "vibe"? is PL a narrow topic? I was surprised about the breadth of PL as an area and the many relations to other disciplines. But even more about how accessible and open everybody was, not only at PLMW itself, but at the rest of the conference afterwards."
— Alejandro Serrano, senior software engineer, 47 Degrees

"Virtual PLDI 2020 gave me a chance to attend PLMW for the first time. For a first-timer like myself, it was incredibly enlightening to see how experienced people in the PL field were sharing their research experience and other stories of building their (research) career in non-technical, everyday English during PLMW mentoring sessions. I highly recommend PLMW to anyone who is not sure where and how to begin research in the PL field, or how to prepare for their graduate program and/or research career. Speakers and mentors you will come across via PLMW are truly inspiring and very much willing to address any of your questions or concerns. I’ve been very happy to be left with actionable information and a long to-do list!"
— Yunjeong Lee, incoming Ph.D. student, National University of Singapore

"I went to ICFP in St. Louis (2018) funded by PLMW. That was my first time attending a conference, ever, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Surprise! It was GREAT!! Honestly there were so many highlights but the biggest thing for me was finally realizing that there's a whole community out there of like-minded folks who are all very excited about PL, but everyone in their own unique way. It's really cool to find out that folks all over the world also care about these problems, and that it's not just you and your advisor working on this niche thing. Also, some of the conversations I had with PLMW attendees have changed, and shaped my own research agenda and aspirations, so I can't emphasize enough how enriching some of those interactions were. Overall, attending PLMW helped me find my place in this community, and made me excited to continue being a part of it."
— David Justo, software engineer, Microsoft

"I attended my first PLMW at POPL 2013 in Rome. At the time, I was an undergraduate who was considering what to do next after graduation. By the time PLMW and POPL were over, I knew I wanted to pursue a PhD and for the first time, I had the confidence to believe that it might be possible.

The mentorship at PLMW was invaluable to me. For example, I did not understand most of the talks at POPL which definitely would have discouraged me if I had not learned at PLMW that this was normal for your first academic conference.

Seven years on, I have now finished my PhD and I am still in touch with some of the friends I made at PLMW."
— Heidi Howard, research fellow in computer science, University of Cambridge

This workshop is part of the activities surrounding ICFP, the International Conference on Functional Programming, and takes place the day before the main conference. One goal of the workshop is to make ICFP more accessible to newcomers, and we hope that after attending PLMW, participants will continue to participate for the entire conference.

Attending PLMW

Like ICFP this year, PLMW will be a virtual event. Some parts of PLMW will be limited to participants who have applied and been accepted to attend. Please apply to attend PLMW via this form. Applications from members of underrepresented groups in computing are especially welcome.

We will process applications on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of August 8. Please note that if you apply and are accepted to attend PLMW, you also receive free registration to ICFP automatically – there’s no need to separately register for ICFP.


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Sun 23 Aug
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09:00 - 10:00
Day opening
Lindsey KuperUniversity of California, Santa Cruz, Talia RingerUniversity of Washington, Nate FosterCornell University
How To Write Papers So People Can Read Them
10:30 - 12:30
Constraint Solvers for the Working PL Researcher
Nadia PolikarpovaUniversity of California, San Diego
Managing your Research, your Advisor, your PhD
Amal AhmedNortheastern University, USA
Basic Mechanics of Operational Semantics
David Van HornUniversity of Maryland, USA
13:30 - 14:00
Social SessionPLMW @ ICFP at PLMW
Social Event
Optional Social Activity
16:00 - 17:00
Panel discussion: Making a career in PL (even in uncertain times)
P: Simon Peyton JonesMicrosoft, UK, P: Kathleen FisherTufts University, USA, P: Jose CalderonGalois, Inc., P: Benjamin C. PierceUniversity of Pennsylvania, P: Sarah E. ChasinsUniversity of California, Berkeley, P: Jeff VaughanGoogle

Please apply to PLMW @ ICFP 2020 using the below form. If the embedded form doesn’t work for you, try this link.