Title of the talk: "Priorities for Language Design: Semantics and Explanations"
On August 22, 2011, Professor Dr. Martin Erwig will give a talk about "Priorities for Language Design: Semantics and Explanations" in the context of the SFB 901 colloquium.
In this presentation I will propose two focus areas for language design that can lead to better designed languages.
First, I will show how focusing on semantics supports the design of languages and leads to more general and better designs. Specifically, I will show that powerful and general language operators can be employed to adapt and grow sophisticated languages out of simple semantics concepts. I will use Haskell as a metalanguage, which allows me to associate generic language concepts, such as semantics domains, with Haskell-specific ones, such as data types. This approach reveals interesting new concepts in the realm of language design.
Second, I propose a new focus in language design where languages provide constructs that not only describe the computation of results, but also produce explanations of how and why those results were obtained. I posit that if users are to understand computations produced by a language, that language should provide explanations to the user. As an example I will present a domain-specific language for explaining probabilistic reasoning, which is based on a story-telling metaphor of explanations and employs a visual notation for explaining probabilistic reasoning.