Salon des Refusés 2018

Dialectics for new computer science

Salon des Refusés ("exhibition of rejects") was an 1863 exhibition of artworks rejected from the official Paris Salon. It displayed works by later famous modernists such as Édouard Manet, whose paintings were rejected by the conservative jury of the Paris Salon. We feel that a similar space is needed to explore new ideas and new ways of doing programming research and computer science.

Many interesting ideas about programming struggle to find space in the modern programming language research community, often because they are difficult to evaluate using proofs, measurements or controlled user studies. As a result, new ideas are often seen as "unscientific".

To provide space for unorthodox thought provoking ideas, we take inspiration from literary criticism. Papers that provoked an interesting discussion or criticism among the program committee members were presented together with an attributed critical review that presents an alternative position, develops additional context or summarizes discussion about the work.

In 2017, we accepted the 8 most inspiring papers out of 16 submissions. Below, you'll find the revised versions of the papers with critical commentary. We hope both will encou­rage you to find new ways of doing and thinking about computer science!

Topics of interest

The scope of the workshop is determined more by the format of submissions than by the specific area of programming language or computer science research that we are interested in. We welcome submissions in a format that makes it possible to think about programming in a new way, including the following.

Thought experiments

We believe that thought experiments, analogies and illustrative metaphors can provide novel insights and inspire fruitful programming language ideas.


All scientific work is rooted in a scientific paradigm that frame what questions can be asked. We encourage submissions that reflect on existing paradigms or explore alternative scientific paradigms.

From jokes to science fiction

A story or an artistic performance may explore ideas and spark conversations that provide crucial inspiration for development of new computer science thinking.


We find prejudices in favour of theory, as far back as there is institutionalized science, but programming can often be seen more as experimentation than as theorizing. We welcome interesting experiments even if there is yet no overarching theory that explains why they happened.

Metaphors, myths and analogies

Any description of formal, mathematical, quantitative or even poetical nature still represents just an analogy. We believe that fruitful ideas can be learned from less common forms of analogies as well as from the predominant, formal and mathematical ones.

Programme committee

To help the authors choose topics that would spark interesting discussions among the PC members and workshop attendees, we do not just list PC members, but we also include their brief bio below. You are welcome to use these as an inspiration for your submission, but they are by no means a complete list of topics!

If you have any questions or want to check whether your idea would fit, please send email to Luke Church (luke at church dot name) or Tomas Petricek (tomas at tomasp dot net) or ping Tomas at @tomaspetricek, or get in touch with any of the other members of the committee to discuss your ideas.

Antranig Basman, Raising the floor

Antranig wants to see work that widens the audience for software by considering the role it might take in healthy societies, based around artefacts that work for everyone. These days, he codes exclusively in JavaScript, the language of the proles - in whom our hope lies. He is interested in work which challenges the assumptions we use to carve up our domain into separated disciplines. He is excited by the possibility that we are still in the prehistory of our subject, and that the principles and practices we have adopted so far may be completely faulty.

Javier Burroni, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Javier met Smalltalk almost 20 years ago, and that made an influence that still persists in his view of programming. He likes to think of Programming Languages as a tool of thought, and their relation with the discovery of knowledge. He is now working with Probabilistic Programming Languages implementing new tools to increase our understanding.

Luke Church, University of Cambridge

Luke is a researcher at the University of Cambridge. He studies how to improve the experience that people have when dealing with complex systems. For example: programming languages, configuration systems or animal behaviour.

Patrick Dubroy

Patrick is a programmer and interaction designer based in Munich, Germany. Most recently, he worked at Y Combinator Research, doing research at the intersection of programming languages and user interfaces. In the past, He also worked at Google, BumpTop, and IBM.

Richard Gabriel, Hasso Plattner Institute

Richard P. Gabriel is the Worse is Better guy. He is a Researcher at Leisure investigating computer generation of writerly text and poetry as well as artificial consciousness. His official affiliation is Visiting Researcher at the Hasso Plattner Institute. He is the award-winning author of four books and a poetry chapbook. He lives in California.

Stephen Kell, University of Cambridge

Stephen thinks that program-ming, as we know it, has unacceptably high human cost, and that we cannot solve this problem by escalation. We need programming systems that help us not to write more code, but to write less, combine, downsize and simplify code. He is a system-builder, interested not only in designing and building such programming systems, but in evolving existing systems in this non-traditional direction.

Mariana Marasoiu, University of Cambridge

Mariana is a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge in the Computer Laboratory. Her current work focuses on building tools for creating dynamic data visualisations aimed at end user programmers.

James Noble, Victoria University of Wellington

James’ research focuses primarily on two areas of software engineering: the design of the users’ interface (the parts of software that users have to deal with every day), and the programmers’ interface (the internal structures and organisations of software that programmers see only when they are designing, building, or modifying software). His research in both these areas is coloured by his longstanding interest in object-oriented approaches to design. Topics he has studied range from aliasing and object ownership, design patterns, agile methodology, visualisation and computer music, through to postmodernism and the semiotics of programming.

David Nolen, Cognitect

David is a curious programmer, musician, and teacher living in Brooklyn. He currently writes Clojure, JavaScript and Ruby for Cognitect. He also helps run the affordable Kitchen Table Coders workshops from a Brooklyn studio. In his free time he contributes to several open source Clojure projects including core.match, core.logic and ClojureScript.

Tomas Petricek, Alan Turing Institute

Tomas is interested in work that challenges how we think about programming. He is interested in novel programming models, theory and practice of functional programming, tools for data-driven storytelling and data science, but also philosophy of science applied to programming.

Jack Schaedler, Ableton

Jack is interested in work that aims to make computation more easily appropriable by authors, educators, artists, and musicians who wish to communicate their ideas in a dynamic medium. He’s interested in tools and languages for authoring interactive literature and artwork, as well as approaches for ensuring that these works remain accessible to posterity. Jack works as a developer for Ableton where he builds software tools for musicians. In his free time, he creates online experiences which explore the explanatory and educational potential of interactive literature.

Philip Tchernavskij, Université Paris-Sud

Philip programs so that we all might program less. He works on infrastructure for software that can be pulled apart and put back together by end-users to fit them and their communities. He is trying to make software tools more like analog hand tools, which can generally be selected, combined, shared, and altered in ways that we have learned software should not be. Besides rethinking the languages and architectures we use to build interactive systems, this involves questioning the contemporary roles of designers, developers, and users.

Format and dates

Submit your papers by February 1, 2018 using the EasyChair link below. We welcome both short (3000 words) and long (9000 words) papers. For some (by no means complete) inspiration on what the papers might look like, check out the papers from Salon des Refusés 2017.

Important dates

  • Deadline for submissions: February 1, 2018 Extended to February 8, 2018
  • Notification of authors: February 17, 2018 Extended to February 24, 2018
  • Workshop at ‹Programming› 2018: April 9-12, 2018
  • Submission page: SdR 2018 on EasyChair

Paper format

We welcome short papers (up to 3000 words) and long papers (up to 9000 words) as well as screencasts or interactive essays. We intend to publish accepted paper on the web, but any format is welcome for the submission. We will consider publishing post-proceedings using the ACM SIGPLAN format (acmart format with the sigconf option), so you can use this template for your submission too.