Damian Frolich

Exploring the unknown

Damian Frolich is a second year master's student doing a joint degree at the UvA and VU in Amsterdam. He is passionate about programming languages, functional programming and programmer productivity. In his free time, he likes to walk, cycle and read fantasy books.

AUTHORS: Damian Frolich and Thomas van Binsbergen

Exploratory programming is a form of incremental program development in which the programmer can easily try and compare definitions, receive immediate feedback and simultaneously experiment with the language, the program and input data. Read-Eval-Print-Loop interpreters (REPLs) and computational notebooks are popular tools for exploratory programming. However, their usability, capabilities and user-friendliness are strongly dependent on the underlying interpreter and, in particular, on the ad hoc engineering required to ready the underlying interpreter for incremental program development. To break this dependency, a principled approach to REPL development can be adopted, using a so-called exploring interpreter for exploratory programming and applying software language engineering to carefully define the operational semantics of the underlying interpreter. This talk presents a generic Haskell implementation of the exploring interpreter - applicable to a large class of software languages - and demonstrates its usage to develop a variety of interfaces with a shared back-end, including command-line REPLs and a computational notebooks.  

OBJECTIVE: Creating excitement for exploring interpreters by showing a generic implementation of the exploring interpreter and how it can be used to develop a variety of interfaces with a shared back-end.  

AUDIENCE: Programming language creators, programmers and anyone in between