HaPoP 2018

Fourth Symposium on the History and Philosophy of Programming

23 March 2018, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Colocated with BSHM Meeting on History of Computing, 22 March 2018

In a society where computers have become ubiquitous, it is necessary to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of computer programs, not just from the technical viewpoint, but from a broader historical and philosophical perspective. A historical awareness of the evolution of programming not only helps to clarify the complex structure of computing, but it also provides an insight in what programming was, is and could be in the future. Philosophy, on the other hand, helps to tackle fundamental questions about the nature of programs, programming languages and programming as a discipline.

HaPoP 2018 is the fourth edition of the Symposium on the History and Philosophy of Programming, organised by HaPoC, Commission on the History and Philosophy of Computing. As in the previous editions, we are convinced that an interdisciplinary approach is necessary for understanding programming with its multifaceted nature. As such, we welcome participation by researchers and practitioners coming from a diversity of backgrounds, including historians, philosophers, computer scientists and professional software developers.

Programming and scientific progress

In addition to submissions in a wide range of areas traditional for HaPoP (outlined below), we especially welcome submissions that explore the nature of scientific progress with respect to computer programming as a discipline. We are interested in investigations concerning the methodology of computer programming, whether it follows a form of scientific method that allows it to increase its problem solving ability, whether its development more is akin to science, engineering or rather art, and what examples from the history of programming can be provided to support either argument.

Selected topics of interest for the symposium

Possible and in no way exclusive questions of relevance to this symposium are:

  • Are we getting better at writing programs that solve the given problem?
  • Is programming a specialist discipline, or will everyone in the future be a programmer?
  • What are the different scientific paradigms and research programmes developed through the history of computer programming?
  • Is it possible to eliminate errors from computer programs?
  • What is a program? How did the notion of a program change throughout the history?
  • How are programs and abstractions born, used and understood?
  • What was and is the relationship between hardware and software developments?
  • How did theoretical computer science (lambda-calculus, logics, category theory) influence the development of programming languages and vice versa?
  • Is programming a science, engineering, technology and/or art?
  • What are the novel and most interesting approaches to the design of programs?
  • What is a correct program? Historical and philosophical reflections on issues in formal specification, type checking and model checking.
  • What is the nature of the relationship between algorithms and programs?
  • What legal and socio-economical issues are involved in the creation, patenting and free-distribution of programs?
  • How do we understand the multi-faceted nature of programs combining syntax, semantics and physical implementation?
  • How is programming to be taught?

Dates, format and submissions

For the symposium, we invite submission of two-page extended abstracts (including footnotes, but excluding references). Accepted papers will be given a 30 minute presentation slot including discussion. We intend to publish selected papers in a special journal issue following the symposium.

  • Submission deadline: 1 January 2018
  • Author notification: 2 February 2018
  • HaPoP symposium: 23 March 2018
  • Submission web site: (coming soon)

Program committee and registration

The program committee of the symposium, as well as registration information will be announced soon. Please check this page regularly for updates. We will be also sharing updates via the HaPoC Comission web page (register to get updates via email) and on Twitter at @HaPoComputing.

HaPoP4 co-chairs are Tomas Petricek and Ursula Martin. If you have any questions regarding suitability of a topic or format of the extended abstract, please contact Tomas at [email protected]. For quick questions, you can also use @tomaspetricek on Twitter.