Student wins prize for functional programming paper

Monday 1 October

Jesse Sigal (centre)with the Editors of the Journal of Functional Programming, Prof. Matthias Felleisen from Northeastern University Boston (left) and Prof. Jeremy Gibbons from Oxford University

Photo: Jesse Sigal (centre) with the Editors of the Journal of Functional Programming, Professor Matthias Felleisen from Northeastern University Boston (left) and Professor Jeremy Gibbons from Oxford University.

Congratulations to Jesse Sigal on winning first prize in the undergraduate category of the Student Research Competition (SRC) at the 2018 International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP).

Jesse is in his fourth year of reading Mathematics and Computer Science at Balliol. Professor Tom Melham (Professor of Computer Science, and Fellow and Tutor in Computation) said: ‘This is a terrific achievement from Jesse. ICFP is one of the top international conferences on functional programming, fully peer reviewed and very competitive to get into.’

The competition provides undergraduate and graduate researchers with an opportunity to present their original research. The goal is to give them a place to discuss their research with experts in their field and to help them sharpen their research and communication skills. Entrants have to submit an extended abstract outlining their research; the most promising entrants participate in the second round, a poster session at ICFP, where the students present their work to the judges; then three finalists in each category are selected to advance to a third round, consisting of an oral presentation at ICFP to compete for the final awards.

Jesse won first prize for his work on ‘Denotational Semantics for Differentiable Programming with Manifolds’, after two rounds. Here is his winning poster. With the winners in the graduate categories, he will be invited to participate in the ACM SRC Grand Finals, an online round of competitions among the winners of other conference-hosted SRCs.

“Attending ICFP and competing in the SRC was a fantastic experience,’ Jesse says, ‘and the support from my supervisors Ohad Kammar (Career Development Fellow in Computer Science) and Luke Ong at the Department of Computer Science was what made my work possible. Having real academics be interested in your work is incredibly satisfying. I plan to continue my work in my master’s thesis and beyond.’