Attending ICFP 2017

Today is the last day of ICFP 2017. It was a fascinating three days conference (+1 day PLMW who partially funded me to conference, a big thank you! And the content was great, too: I’m checking out all the previous PLMW videos now!).

I’m in general very positive about the conference, but I have to say, it’s not in my comfort zone (yet). As you can probably deduce, this is my first ICFP and my knowledge about functional programming is way below the sealevel of other conference attendees. The up side of this is, when I talk to people, there’s lots of gain for me; the down side is, it makes it hard to approach to people, especially not to take their valuable time when they could have more productive conversations. Towards the end, I think I’m getting used to have more casual and short conversations, which hopefully could be small gains for both sides. On my side, I definitely gained a lot by talking to people from very different backgrounds. Although this happened, the people are in general very nice and open!

The technical side of the talks are very interesting but challenging. In general, I think I was able to enjoy the first 5 mins of each talk at least. And I was able to have a sense of the main topics in this area of research, get to know the concept of pearl and experience report, the kind of equations and terms that appear again and again, the interaction between the audience and the speakres, etc. The real-time questions and answers on the slack channels pointed me more directions. Some authors put their slides there also and it was great to be able to look at the slides as reference when the talk was happening. These blog posts also helped me understanding the materials.

Putting aside the technical part, some of the talks are really very well-made (background intro, anologies, code and interaction embeddings, high-lighting, colour schemes and comics as well of course!). I think I can definitely use some of those presentation techniques to future research.

In the end, it was three + 1 days with lots of content. I think I’ll check out the papers in more details at some point and try to understand more what was going on (maybe with more guidance..). The Oxford podcast did live stream this year, but they will probably put the videos online soon, and that would help too. In the mean time, I will go back and learn more foundations…(I just realised in these days the tolls of never did a CS degree..)

It is a mix of being fortunate and unfortunate that there are lots of deadlines coming up and I need to work when there’s no talks and no mingles. Always a balance of input and output!

Learnt a lot and gained lots of motivations! The week is not over yet though. Looking forward to the few workshops happening Thursday and Friday, and FARM on Saturday!




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