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How to design a programming language

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Now that interactive digital systems are ubiquitous, principled design has become essential – understanding user needs in order to build systems that are fit for purpose. Are programming languages also user interfaces, and do they need similar design processes? This talk asks whether programming languages are purely “internal” components of a system, derived from engineering and mathematical considerations, or whether human factors are also a core consideration in programming language research. A key question is who gets to write programs – will programming in future be an activity just for technical specialists, or is it a tool for everyone? The tools of AI research are a key concern, many reflecting the resources of the large companies that sponsor their development. Could new languages enable AI research in a greater diversity of contexts, including low-income countries?

This talk is part of the Wednesday Seminars - Department of Computer Science and Technology series.

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