Dyalog ’23 Videos: Week 4 – Research and Education

I am always thrilled to hear from people who have been able to use APL to gain insight into difficult subjects, or use APL to pass knowledge on to others. A truly fascinating and surprising example of this at Dyalog ’23 was the talk titled “quAPL – A Quantum Computing Library in APL”, in which Marcos Frenkel presented work that he has done together with Santiago Núñez-Corrales and Bruno Abreu at the National Center for SuperComputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the USA.

I say “surprising” because I had imagined that quantum computers were a bit like the analog computers of old, where you would initialise some “circuits” and then let the thing settle into some kind of minimal energy state – and, therefore, about as far from APL as you could get. However, when you take a closer look at quantum computing, qubit states are “matrix multiplications all the way down”. To quote Marcos: APL naturally expresses quantum concepts, leading to higher level programming constructs.

Jesús Galán López is a metallurgist at Ghent University in Belgium. In two presentations at Dyalog ’23, he explains how he has been exploring the use of APL for scientific and engineering work. He takes us on a deep dive into the use of APL to help students write better models of processes like grain growth in metals than they would be able to using traditional programming languages.

Dyalog had two interns this summer: last week’s video collection featured work done on an Array Notation implementation by Kamila Szewczyk from Saarland University. This week, Asher Harvey-Smith talks about his experience as an intern, some of the teaching materials that he worked on over the summer, and his adventures teaching algebra to his mates using APL after he returned to the University of Warwick.

Not all education happens at an institution: sometimes you have to learn APL on your own, with the help of online friends. If you are really keen, you can attend conferences and hunt down Aaron Hsu. The final talk this week is by Brandon Wilson. In a talk titled “Introspections of an Intermediate APLer – The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Learning APL“, he (in his own words) offers the perspective of a firmly middle-intermediate APLer trying to make the most of the glittering promises of “APL as a tool of thought” while the pains and joys are salient.


This week’s videos:

Materials for all presentations can be downloaded from the Dyalog ’23 webpage.

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