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An interview with Gary T. Leavens (part 2)

General Information - Blog

rob van den berg.
Publicity chair OOPSLA 2009

In the first part of this interview with Gary Leavens, professor at Central Florida university and program chair for OOPSLA 2009 we talked about being selected for program chair and past OOPSLA experiences. This part we want to know why we should go to Orlando in October 2009 for OOPSLA 2009.


Q: Tell me something more about your OOPSLA career and the impact on your working career (and life?)

OOPSLA was also the first conference publication that I had, with William Weihl, in 1990. Actually, that conference was a joint conference with the European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP), the only joint ECOOP/OOPSLA conference ever.  So it was quite exciting to get a paper in it. This paper (which in hindsight is somewhat difficult to understand) laid out the technical basis for behavioral subtyping from my PhD thesis. (I consider it progress that I can now explain behavioral subtyping more clearly and simply.) I was very pleased to meet Pierre America at this conference, who was the first person to give a definition of behavioral subtyping based on pre-and post-condition implications (his work predated my work and Liskov's invited talk).  In 1991 I was on a panel at OOPSLA. I nearly missed the conference because I had the dates of my airplane flight incorrectly recorded in my calendar. However, I was very glad to be there, because at this conference I met many people in the aliasing community. There was a special birds-of-a-feather session about aliasing, which resulted in the famous "Geneva Convention" on aliasing in programs (see the OOPS Messenger of April 1992). I knew aliasing would be important for reasoning about object-oriented programs, but I could not imagine that it would be as important a topic in my own research as it grew to be later on. Being there "at the start" in some sense was a great experience.  OOPSLA was also the first conference that I was ever was on the program committee for. Ralph Johnson was the chair of the program committee for that conference and asked me to be on the program committee. This was a big break for me, for which I'm very grateful. However, at the meeting itself I was somewhat unprepared for the protocol of arguing for (championing) the best papers. For some reason I had thought that I would have to try to prevent bad papers from getting into the conference. That was exactly backwards, it turned out. I was able to recover during the meeting, but it was a scramble, because I was assigned some of the best papers, which were discussed at the very beginning of the meeting.

Q: So we are all constantly connected, and can get information from the internet without having to leave comfort of our house. Is there still a point in going to a conference or OOPSLA in specific?

Sure. Making personal contacts with various researchers has been a great aid to my career. It's also been interesting to talk to various people involved in industry, many of whom are doing fascinating things that they haven't published anything about. You wouldn't find out many of these things, and you wouldn't meet these people without going to the conference.

Q: Can you tell the audience why they should submit to OOPSLA and not to other conferences?

OOPSLA is one of the few conferences right at the intersection of programming languages and software engineering. It's a conference where insights into programming are valued and discussed in detail. If you have work that is in the intersection of programming languages and software engineering concerns, or that teaches lessons about design or other phases of programming, then OOPSLA is the place to send it. The conference is selective and has high impact. The research paper sessions are well attended and the presentations are quite helpful for understanding the significance of the work.

Q: What do you think of the location of this year's OOPSLA? Will special outfits be required?

I'm not sure what kind of special outfits would be required! You probably won't have to bring a jacket, except to go back to whatever cold place you might be from after the trip. The weather will be ideal in October.  The location at the Disney contemporary is really neat. The monorail takes you right from inside the hotel to other parts of Disney World. Bring the kids if you have them.  Even if you don't there are great restaurants.  Orlando has many restaurants within easy driving distance, including a favorite Ethiopian restaurant on International Drive.

Q: Any thought on what the attendees can expect this year October in Orlando?

Lots of interesting discussions, talks, workshops, etc., and lots of great papers. The conference is a good size for meeting people, not too big but not too small.

Q: Any closing remarks?

I hope all people have sent us their best papers. I look forward to meeting people in Orlando.


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