The Last Functional Programmer

One of the things our computer science department is famous for is its history in functional programming. People who have been working here include John Hughes, Lennart Augustsson, Thomas Johnsson, Niklas Röjemo, Jan Sparud, Urban Boquist, Magnus Carlsson, Thomas Hallgren, Koen Claessen and some people like Philip Wadler, Amr Sabry and Andrew Gordon have made longer visits here. All these people have made important contributions to the field of functional programming and Haskell in particular.

Given this dire history it was not without pride that I yesterday was given the title "The Last Functional Programmer" of the department.

The history behind this title is that a lot of the people do not work at our department any longer. The only two people left are John Hughes and Koen Claessen. John has switched over to Erlang and Koen mostly does hardware verification these days. So, when one guy from the proglog group needed a subreviewer for a paper relating to functional programming he was directed to me, being the last functional programming outpost at our department.

Although I was proud to be given this title it's also sad. Functional programming is really fun and I wish there were more people doing it at our department. There are people here who use functional programming and we can exchange some ideas but there's really no exciting research going on. I guess I'll have to move to a better place when I've finished my PhD. Or maybe I need to love some other field.


Anonymous said...

What have they all moved on to? Other universities, persuing fortunes with functional programming in industry, researching extensions to C#?

Josef said...

John Hughes and Koen Claessen are still at our department but John is mostly working at his newly started company and Koen is mostly into verifying hardware.

Lennart Augustsson left only recently for an industry job in USA. He had been working for industry at times even when he was still employed at our department.

Thomas Johnsson, Urban Boquist, Niklas Röjemo and I believe also Jan Sparud all started working for the high-end consulting company Carlstedt Research and Technology back in the happy days of the IT bubble. Unfortunately that company went bankrupt so now they work for different smaller consulting companies.

Magnus Carlsson and Thomas Hallgren (they seemed to be an inseperable duo) both worked at Oregon Graduate Institute for a couple of years. Magnus is now back in Gothenburg and I believe (although I'm not sure) that he works for the IT University (which is partly run by Chalmers but different from the Computer Science department. Don't ask about it, it's all a big mess.) I talked to Thomas just before Christmas and he was unemployed but was hoping to join Johan Nordlander's group in Luleå, Sweden. (Johan should arguably also have been on the list in my original post.)