Functional programming and the FARM workshop


Functional programming techniques, where functions are passed around as values forming “higher-order” structures, has traditionally been seen as a fringe activity. It has become increasingly popular amongst programmers in the past few years though, and is commonplace amongst live coders. For example the extempore, fluxus, overtone and tidal systems are built on functional principles, and ChucK, Pure-Data and Max/MSP also take a highly declarative approach. That said live coders take very diverse approaches to functional programming; in computer science circles it is apparently rare for a Scheme and Haskell programmer to be seen in the same room, whereas in live coding such programmers can be seen sharing the same stage, making music and visuals together. Otherwise divisive issues such as static vs dynamic typing and purity, fade into the background when the shared goal is to make code more manipulable and programming more meaningful in live experience.

One forum where live coders can connect with the wider FP community is “FARM” the ACM SIGPLAN Workshop on Functional Art, Music, Modeling and Design. It’s part of the International Conference on Functional Programming, which is in Sweden this year. I’m happy to be co-organising the workshop this time, and we hope to include some evening performances as well as paper, poster and demo sessions. The deadline is getting very close, so check out the call for proposals if you’d like to submit something.

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