Join us at the Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop at ICFP next month

The Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop is a fun and free event for people who want to learn about careers in programming languages (PL) research. These days, there are four PLMWs a year, held in conjunction with the Big Four SIGPLAN-sponsored conferences (POPL, PLDI, OOPSLA, and ICFP), and the next one is going to be held on August 22, in conjunction with ICFP ‘21. If you think you might like to attend, please apply by August 8th!

Like ICFP itself, this edition of PLMW will be held online. In the Before Times, PLMW paid (at least a significant chunk of) attendees’ expenses for the rest of conference attendance, including funds toward travel, lodging, and registration. For the last year and a half, though, with conferences being online, travel and lodging fees have been nonexistent and registration fees have been much lower. Of course, online conferences have lots of disadvantages compared to in-person ones, but one silver lining is that it’s been possible for us to expand access to PLMW. For example, I helped organize last year’s PLMW @ ICFP in August 2020, and it was, as far as we’re aware, the biggest PLMW ever, with 275 registered attendees hailing from 32 countries on 6 continents.1 This year, I’m once again (along with my friend José Calderón) helping organize PLMW @ ICFP 2021, and we’re hoping for another great turnout. We would love for you to join us this year!

I’ve written before about who PLMW is for, but the short version is: PLMW is for anyone who thinks they might be interested — even a little bit — in pursuing a career in PL research.2 It’s mostly targeted at late-stage undergraduate and early-stage graduate students, but others are welcome to apply, too. All you have to do to apply is fill out a form, which takes about twenty minutes. Please do not agonize about your answers to the questions on the form. You don’t need to have any special qualifications to go to PLMW; you only need to be someone who is interested in, or curious about, working in PL research.

If you’re still unsure about whether to apply, you’re welcome to email me and ask my opinion on whether I think you should — but I’m probably going to say yes!

  1. The PLMWs at SPLASH ‘20, POPL ‘21, or PLDI ‘21 might have beat our record between August 2020 and now; I’m not sure. Also, for what it’s worth, a good number of those 275 registered attendees at PLMW @ ICFP ‘20 were no-shows, which is pretty typical for online events, I think. Still, we had a lot of attendees compared to the 40-50 or so that a typical in-person PLMW in the Before Times would have been able to fund. (While unfunded students would have been welcome to show up at an in-person PLMW, they would have had to pay their own way, which would be prohibitive for most students.)

  2. If you’re wondering what exactly “PL research” is, I recommend this blog post by Mike Hicks, and the accompanying talk!