Important Dates



Register (via POPL registration)


Submission Guidelines

Conference Organizers

Post-workshop Survey


Forest Path
picture from http://www.flickr.com/photos/pfly/136243406/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
-- Robert Frost
Off the Beaten Track:

Underrepresented Problems
for Programming Language Researchers

Co-located with POPL 2012

Philadelphia, USA
January 28, 2012

Important dates

Paper submission Monday November 14, 2011 (11:59PM US EST)
Author notification Friday December 9, 2011
Conference Saturday January 28, 2012


Programming language researchers have the principles, tools, algorithms and abstractions to solve all kinds of problems, in all areas of computer science. However, identifying and evaluating new problems, particularly those that lie outside the typical core PL problems we all know and love, can be a significant challenge. Hence, the goal of this workshop is to identify and discuss problems that do not often show up in our top conferences, but where programming language researchers can make a substantial impact. The hope is that by holding such a forum and associating it directly with a top conference like POPL, we can slowly start to increase the diversity of problems that are studied by PL researchers and that by doing so we will increase the impact that our community has on the world.

While many workshops associated with POPL have become more like mini-conferences themselves, this is not the goal for Off the Beaten Track. The workshop will be informal and structured to encourage discussion. It will also be centered around problems and problem areas as opposed to fully-formed solutions.

A good submission is one that outlines a new problem or an interesting, underrepresented problem domain. Good submissions may also remind the PL community of problems that were once in vogue but have not recently been seen in top PL conferences. Good submissions do not need to propose complete or even partial solutions, though there should be some reason to believe that programming languages researchers have the tools necessary to search for solutions in the area at hand. Submissions that seem likely to stimulate discussion about the direction of programming language research are encouraged. Possible topics include any of the following.

  • Biology, chemistry, or other natural sciences
  • Art, music, graphics and animation
  • Networking, cloud computing, systems programming
  • Linguistics
  • Economics, law, politics or other social sciences
  • Web programming, social computing
  • Algorithms and complexity
  • Mathematics, statistics
  • Machine learning or artificial intelligence
  • Education
  • Unusual compilers; underrepresented programming languages
  • Surprise us

We certainly hope to see submissions on topics not mentioned above. The goal of the workshop is to be inclusive, not exclusive. Submissions are evaluated on the basis of creativity, novelty, clarity, possible impact and potential for stimulating discussion.

Workshop Structure

The one-day workshop will be structured to include the following activities:

  • Short submitted talks, ~5 minutes long, interleaved with 5-15 minutes of discussion
  • Longer submitted talks, ~15-30 minutes long, interleaved with discussion
  • Longer Invited talks
  • A panel, organized as a coherent collection of short presentations by panelists interleaved with discussion

 The exact structure and length of talks will be decided by the program chair in consultation with the program committee.

UPDATE:  See the preliminary program.


Submission guidelines

Submissions come in two forms.  In both cases, authors should not assume that reviewers will be experts in the particular area of the submission -- they will most likely not be.  All submissions should be accessible to a wide range of programming language researchers.

Submissions for 5-minute talks: Authors will submit a 1-page PDF document, in at least 10pt font, printable on US Letter paper.  Authors are free to include links to multi-media content such as youtube videos or online demos. Reviewers may or may not view linked documents (it is up to authors to convince them to do so in their 1-page submission).  5-minute talks will be followed by 5-15 minutes of discussion.

Submissions for longer talks:  Authors will submit at most a 2-page PDF document, in at least 10pt font, printable on US Letter paper.  Put the words "Full Presentation" in the title of your submission if you would like a longer talk.  By default, we will assume a short, 5-minute presentation if the title does not contain these words and is 1 PDF page or less.  Authors are free to include links to multi-media content such as youtube videos or online demos. Reviewers may or may not view linked documents (it is up to authors to convince them to do so in their 1-page submission). Longer talks may be up to 1/2 an hour in length. The length will depend on the submissions received and how the program committee decides to assemble the program.  Longer talks will be followed by 5-15 minutes of discussion.

Submission will be handled through EasyChair.  Click here to submit a paper.

Reviewing of submissions will be very light.  Authors should not expect a detailed analysis of their submission by the program committee.  Accepted submissions will be posted as is on this on this web site.  By submitting a document, you agree that if it is accepted, it may be posted and you agree that one of the co-authors will attend the workshop and give a talk there.  There will be no revision process and no formal publication.



Program Chair:

David Walker (Princeton University)

Program Committee:

Thomas Ball (Microsoft Research, Redmond)
Trevor Jim (AT&T)
Julia Lawall (DIKU)
Boon Thau Loo (University of Pennsylvania)
Geoff Mainland (Microsoft Research, Cambridge)
Chung-chieh Shan (Cornell)