Tomas Petricek

Would Aliens Understand Lambda Calculus?

Not Just a Computer Scientist

Would Aliens Understand Lambda Calculus?

Elegant programming constructions and mathematical theories like LISP and lambda calculus often look timeless and universal. They are not invented, but discovered! If there are intelligent aliens, they will sooner or later run into formal logics and computation and, shortly thereafter, discover lambda calculus and LISP. Or will they?

To answer this question, we can look at the vast literature of philosophy of mathematics. In this talk, Tomas will give a gentle overview of some of the most important ideas and discuss how they apply to programming.

It turns out that there are plenty of reasons to believe that lambda calculus is invented and aliens might never invent it, especially if they are at least a bit interesting!

Talk Objectives

The goal of this talk is to demystify mathematics and to explain why it might not be as perfect as it seems. It can help you understand where are mathematical theories useful in programming, but also what are their limitations - and why theoreticians might say the opposite.

Talk Audience

Anyone who will not take "yes, probably" as a sufficient answer to the question in the title of the talk! Also, don't worry - you don't need to know a lot about lambda calculus.

About Tomas

Tomas is a computer scientist and open-source developer. He is a Visiting Researcher at the Alan Turing Institute working on tools for open data-driven storytelling. He wrote a popular book called "Real-World Functional Programming" and is a lead developer of several F# open-source libraries. He is a partner at fsharpWorks where he provides trainings and consulting services. Tomas recently submitted his PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge focused on context-aware programming, but his most recent writings also includes two essays try to understand programming through the perspective of philosophy of science.

Github: tpetricek

Twitter: @tomaspetricek

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