Awards and distinctions
Alan Schmitt receives the Most Influential POPL Paper Award
Alan Schmitt, an Inria researcher working in the Celtique research team, has recently received the Most Influential POPL Paper Award. This award recognises a paper that he co-authored in 2005 as being the most influential paper ten years after its publication. We asked him for his comments.
1. Alan, you have been recognised for a paper that you published ten years ago. Tell us more.
The POPL programming languages conference makes this award each year to one of the papers presented ten years previously that has had a profound influence on the research community. In 2015, it was our paper ‘Combinators for Bi-Directional Tree Transformations : A Linguistic Approach to the View Update Problem’ from 2005 that was chosen. This paper is the result of work carried out jointly with J. Nathan Foster, Michael B. Greenwald, Jonathan T. Moore and Benjamin C. Pierce when I was a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
2. What has this paper brought to the scientific community?
The paper addresses a relatively simple problem : How to propagate modifications made to data that exists in different formats. This question had been addressed in the context of databases since the 1980s, and our main contribution was to develop a programming language specifically dedicated to this problem. We were able to use the techniques of type systems to guarantee that the propagation of modifications was correct. This initial step was then generalised by ourselves and other researchers to include other families of data formats and other transformations.Since then. The community has grown around a series of annual conferences on bidirectional transformations.
3. Has the award opened up new opportunities for you?
This award is first and foremost a recognition of the extensive work on bidirectional transformations carried out by the programming languages community. I hope that the award will encourage others to work in a field which combines aspects of databases, programming languages and software engineering.