Carnegie Mellon University
June 25, 2019

Miller Among Those to Receive Top PL Award for Scala Programming Language

By Josh Quicksall

Heather Miller, faculty member in the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research, was among a team of researchers tapped to receive the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages award at the 2019 Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI) conference in Phoenix, Arizona this week.

Awarded during the annual conference, hosted in conjunction with the ACM Federated Computing Research Conference (FCRC), PLDI is the premier forum in the field of programming languages and programming systems research, covering the areas of design, implementation, theory, applications, and performance.

The Programming Languages Software Award seeks to recognize the development of a software system that has had a significant impact on programming language research, implementations, and tools. The impact may be reflected in the wide-spread adoption of the system or its underlying concepts by the wider programming language community either in research projects, in the open-source community, or commercially.

Scala is now an industrial-grade programming language that has brought the functional programming paradigm to industrial software development. Scala combines elements of object-oriented and functional programming into a single, high-level language. In addition to incorporating numerous features of functional programming - such as  currying, type inference, immutability, Scala also utilizes and an advanced type system supporting algebraic data types, covariance and contravariance, higher-order types, and anonymous types.

The award committee notes that “Scala is one of the few programming languages from academia that has had a significant impact on the world as well as on programming languages research.” Pointing out that the language has not only enjoyed significant industrial adoption—at Twitter, Apple, SAP, and as the core of Apache Spark to name a few—the committee also lauds the language’s remarkable impact on research, including the idiom of implicits, Dependent Object Type (DOT) calculus, Domain Specific Languages for machine learning and GPU execution, and much more. 

The Scala programming language was developed by a team led by Martin Odersky at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The team consists of Adriaan Moors (Lightbend), Aleksandar Procopec (Oracle Research), Heather Miller (CMU), Iulian Dragos (Triplequote), Nada Amin (Harvard), Phillip Haller (KTH), Sebastien Doeraene (Scala Center), and Tiark Rompf (Purdue). 

To learn more about Scala and the work of the team, please visit the Scala language site, the Scala Center, or follow them on Twitter!