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CSIS Seminar

Squashing Bugs and Empowering Programmers with User-Centered Programming Language Design

Speaker:   Michael Coblenz, University of Maryland, College Park
When:   February 14, 2022, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where:   Zoom


Programming languages are simultaneously formal systems and user interfaces with which programmers work. Unfortunately, programmers have a hard time writing safe software: serious bugs and security vulnerabilities are common. In many cases, however, languages with strong safety guarantees have been hard to use. In this talk, I’ll discuss user-centered design methods I developed to help language designers create languages that are easier to use. I’ll show how I created and evaluated Obsidian, a new smart contract language that uses a linear type system, and Bronze, a new garbage collector for Rust. I found that programmers are more effective when using the resulting languages than when using prior languages. ZOOM: https://gmu.zoom.us/j/92337272429?pwd=OGF1YTB1emtRWDRDSmxncVNPNlUwZz09 Meeting ID: 923 3727 2429 Passcode: 411343

Speaker Bio

Michael Coblenz is a Basili Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland. Michael developed the PLIERS method, which integrates user-centered methods into the design process for safe programming languages. He created Glacier, an immutability system for Java; Obsidian, a strongly-typed language for smart contracts; and Bronze, a garbage collector that improves usability of Rust. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, he was a Senior Software Engineer at Apple. His work, which is at the intersection of programming languages, software engineering, and human-computer interaction research, has been published at OOPSLA, TOPLAS, ICSE, and TOCHI.