Enzo Alda is the founder of Lakebolt Research, a firm focused on the intersection of functional reactive programming, parallel computing, and quantitative modeling. Before coming to the U.S., Mr. Alda was an Associate Professor at Simon Bolivar University (Venezuela), where he conducted research in Programming Language Design and Implementation. He has held positions in various startups as well as large companies like ORACLE, Bloomberg, and Google. Mr. Alda designed and implemented the real time calculation engine that powers the Bloomberg terminal and contributed to Google Spreadsheet. He holds degrees in Software Engineering, Computer Science, and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.
It’s been long noted in the literature that spreadsheets embody a functional programming paradigm. However, spreadsheets suffer from many shortcomings, haphazardly described in Websites, business magazines, sector specific publications, etc., that not only annoy practitioners, but are the source of costly mistakes. There have been attempts to make spreadsheet tools more robust, expressive, and/or maintainable, by adding spreadsheet like interfaces to existing functional programming languages or extending current tools in ad-hoc ways.
The talk will first reduce the laundry list of spreadsheet problems to a handful of core issues stemming from their original design. Next, we explain why attempts to improve spreadsheet tools have fallen short of their intended goals. Finally, the talk will show how it is possible, by simply following generally accepted programming language design principles, to generalize spreadsheets in a consistent manner that not only eliminates major shortcomings, but is conducive to a smooth learning curve. This last point is key, as it makes possible for practitioners to gradually embrace powerful programming techniques.