PLDI 2016

The 37th annual ACM SIGPLAN conference on
Programming Language Design and Implementation

Santa Barbara, California
June 13-17, 2016


Dear Mina Lee,

Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that we will fund your trip to attend PLMW@PLDI and PLDI.

I was thrilled when I first read this very beginning of the email! I was super surprised and elated just by looking at it, realizing that I actually got to go the conference.

Since I was still in my last semester of university, I had to ask professors to reschedule my finals; luckily they let me take them in advance–thanks a lot! After finishing up my graduation project as well as the last final, I flew to California with a big, big smile.

※ Note that there are lots of parts left blank below where I haven’t finished writing yet. I am filling them one by one, so please excuse me for that :-)

June 14

On my first day of the conference, I mostly attended sessions provided by Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop (PLMW), which is the program that funded not only me but also many other students from various countries. The only time that I went to another session on this day was attending a tutorial given by Sumit Gulwani and Oleksandr Polozov, Programming using Examples, which dealt with the exact topic that I am deeply interested in!

Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop

Below are some brief notes I took while listening to each talk during the workshop.

PLMW: Mentoring
Armando Solar-Lezama

He is one of the authors of the paper, Automated Feedback Generation for Introductory Programming Assignments, which is the very first paper I read and which eventually led me to immerse myself in program synthesis.

PLMW: Professional Communication
Matthew Might

How to email professors?

  1. Don’t email them
  2. Make it short
  3. Use the subject
  4. Use points rather than paragraphs
  5. Reply in points
  6. Place actions at top
  7. Sort points by priority
  8. Don’t replay all
  9. Be polite

PLMW: The Secrets
Jason Mars

Get motivated, inspired, and proud.

  1. Identify your mentors
  2. Latch on, hold on tight
  3. Build lifelong relationships

Embrace the unknown-seek to learn.

  1. Get out of comfort zone
  2. Leverage all resources
  3. Learn to navigate new territory

Be convinced.

  1. Buy into your problem
  2. Pitch your idea
  3. Convince others

The community can be fallible; if you don’t agree, persist. Believe and take yourself seriously! (His paper had been rejected for 4 years, but it was accepted as the best reviewed paper at the end)

Q. How can I not be discouraged?
A. Think about paper level parallelism.

PLMW: Getting People to Listen
Marry Hall

  • Communication and confidence are related.
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Many people struggle with:
    • Impostor syndrome
      • high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”
    • Dunning-Kruger effect
      • low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is

PLMW: What’s Next for Program Synthesis
Armando Solar-Lezama

Civilization runs on software.

  • Program optimization
  • Repair
  • Bug finding
  • Security
  • Automated tutor

Search + Verification = Synthesis

PLMW: Programming with Estimates
James Bornholt (Student at University of Washington)

  • Uncertain<T>: 86% more accurate
  • Probabilistic programming
  • Programs are graphical models
    • We know probability distribution of x, y, then also that of x + y
    • Thus, we can compute the probability that the condition is true, and use a hypothesis test to decide the branch; decide sample size automatically
  • Optimizing Synthesis with Metasketches [POPL 2016]

He was so good at presentation even though he was the only student presented at the workshop. I wish I could research something interesting and practical like his, and present it at the conference in the future :)

Tutorials: Programming using Examples
Sumit Gulwani, Oleksandr Polozov

June 15


Keynote: Programming Languages and Technical Disruption
Benjamin Zorn

Research Papers – Verification I

Data-Driven Precondition Inference with Learned Features
Saswat Padhi, Rahul Sharma, Todd Millstein

Cartesian Hoare Logic for Verifying k-Safety Properties
Marcelo Sousa, Isil Dillig

Verifying Bit Manipulations of Floating-Point
Wonyeol Lee, Rahul Sharma, Alex Aiken

Research Papers – Energy & Performance

GreenWeb: Language Extensions for Energy-Efficient Mobile Web Computing
Yuhao Zhu, Vijay J. Reddi

Research Papers – New Languages

Configuration Synthesis for Programmable Analog Devices with Arco
Sara Achour, Rahul Sarpeshkar, Martin Rinard

From Datalog to Flix: A Declarative Language for Fixed Points on Lattices
Magnus Madsen, Ming-Ho Yee, Ondřej Lhoták

Latte: A Language, Compiler, and Runtime for Elegant and Efficient Deep Neural Networks
Leonard Truong, Rajkishore Barik, Ehsan Totoni, Hai Liu, Chick Markley, Armando Fox, Tatiana Shpeisman

Poster Reception

I loved the vivid, enthusiastic, and interactive ambiance of poster reception. I felt much easier to mingle with people by asking questions, listening to their presentation, and having small chats here and there. In addition, thanks to their kind, detailed answers, I could learned and understood their work comprehensively.

After poster reception, 15 hungry students, including myself, went to downtown to have delicious Indian food. We all met during the poster session and became friends, yay :-) It was one of the unforgettable times that I had in Santa Barbara.


June 16

Research Papers – Down to the Metal II

Stratified Synthesis: Automatically Learning the x86-64 Instruction Set
Stefan Heule, Eric Schkufza, Rahul Sharma, Alex Aiken

Remix: Online Detection and Repair of Cache Contention for the JVM
Ariel Eizenberg, Shiliang Hu, Gilles Pokam, Joseph Devietti

Statistical Similarity of Binaries
Yaniv David, Nimrod Partush, Eran Yahav

Research Papers – Synthesis I

MapReduce Program Synthesis
Calvin Smith, Aws Albarghouthi

Programmatic and Direct Manipulation, Together at Last
Ravi Chugh, Brian Hempel, Mitchell Spradlin, Jacob Albers

Fast Synthesis of Fast Collections
Calvin Loncaric, Emina Torlak, Michael D. Ernst

Research Papers – Synthesis II

Synthesizing Transformations on Hierarchically Structured Data
Navid Yaghmazadeh, Christian Klinger, Isil Dillig, Swarat Chaudhuri

Program Synthesis from Polymorphic Refinement Types
Nadia Polikarpova, Ivan Kuraj, Armando Solar-Lezama



Santa Barbara is indeed a beautiful city with lots of charms and beauty. It would have been nice if I could stay there for several more days. At first, I found palm trees lining up along the streets exotic. However, when I was about to leave, they became pretty familiar to me.


My adviser, his students, and I took a walk by Stearns Wharf after having dinner one day. It presented us stunning view: the beach with the reflection of the glow of sunset. I could walk there for hours and hours.


Looking back on these days, I could not more appreciate all the moments I had there. I relished every day and still vividly remember them. I deeply, sincerely thank PLDI for giving me this opportunity and all of you whom I met on this trip. You all made it such a beautiful one.


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