Past Meetup

#18 James MacAulay on Peter Landin's The Mechanical Evaluation of Expressions

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Important: please arrive before 7pm, which is when the front door locks! If you arrive after 7pm, use the keypad beside the outside door and buzz 8882 to be let in.

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James MacAulay will be presenting The Mechanical Evaluation of Expressions (https://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/crary/www/819-f09/Landin64.pdf) by Peter Landin.

This paper, published in 1964, was the first to describe an abstract process virtual machine for evaluating lambda calculus expressions – the SECD machine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SECD_machine). In describing the operation of the machine, Landin tackles a range of topics that have remained central to functional programming, such as lists, closures, and recursion.

The design of this abstract machine was hugely influential to the history of VM design and programming language implementation as a whole. Meanwhile the expression syntax used in this paper is a close precursor to Landin's ISWIM language that he described two years later in The Next 700 Programming Languages (http://www.inf.ed.ac.uk/teaching/courses/epl/Landin66.pdf) and which heavily influenced later languages such as SASL, Miranda, ML, and Haskell.

This talk will dig into how the SECD machine works, and how programming languages can be implemented with it.

Paper Link: https://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/crary/www/819-f09/Landin64.pdf

Doors open at 6:30 pm, presentation will begin at 7:00 pm. There will be food and refreshments provided by Shopify.