Enzo Alda is the founder of Lakebolt Research, a firm focused on functional reactive programming, parallel computing, and quantitative modeling. Mr. Alda has held positions at various startups as well as large companies like ORACLE, Bloomberg, and Google. Back in the XX century, before selling out to industry, he was an associate professor at Simón Bolívar University (Venezuela), where he conducted research in programming language design and implementation, which he has kept alive as an independent researcher.
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.