I was able to go Strange Loop for the first time this year. I’ve watched a lot of videos of talks from Strange Loop over the last couple years, and was excited to be able to attend this year. It was a great conference with excellent talks on a good variety of topics. I learned a lot and I am really glad I went. The conference was multi-track with up to 8 talks scheduled during each time slot, so there were many talks I missed. Below are my 6 favorite talks from those I attended at the conference. I am sure there are many excellent talks I missed out on, but these were my favorites among the ones I attended.
Probabilistic Scripts for Automating Common-Sense Tasks
My favorite talk from the conference by far. Coming into the talk I didn’t have an experience with probabilistic programming so this talk introduced me to the concepts and as well as Gen, a probabilistic programming system. I was able to learn a lot from this talk and it got me excited about probabilistic programming. I have decided to dedicate some time to learning probabilistic programming.
Beyond Alt-Text: Trends in Online Accessibility
This talk was a good reminder of the importance of web accessibility. I really enjoyed the topic as it forced me to look at the web differently. Realizing that not everyone can have the same experience on the web reminds me to be more careful about how I design things for the web. This talk introduced my to Pa11y and I’ve started running it on this website.
How to Teach Programming (and Other Things)?
This was an excellent and fun talk. This keynote was probably one of the most thought provoking talks I listened to at the conference. I think it was also one of the most controversial talks that was given at the conference. I had numerous discussions with people at the conference with people about the things I agreed with and the things I didn’t agree with in this talk. Overall it was very thought provoking and very well presented.
New programming constructs for probabilistic AI
Another interesting talk about probabilistic computing. This talk also featured example code written with Gen just like the other talk on probabilistic scripting. This talk presented some very interesting problems and showed how probabilistic programming constructs could be used to solve them without a strong understanding of the underlying mathematics.
Uptime 15,364 days - The Computers of Voyager
An all around fun and informative talk about the design and development of the Voyager space probes. Aaron covers the requirements the project had as well challenges that were encountered in the design and development of the hardware for the probes. I found the details of the redundant computer hardware and the probes' power system to be particularly interesting.
Parser Parser Combinators for Program Transformation
A very interesting talk on tool called comby, which allows for programmatic refactoring of code in any language. comby has been run on code in the top 100 Github projects and produced refactorings that resulted in around 40 merged PRs all without any manual manipulation of the code. comby seems very powerful and I hope ideas like this will become more popular.