Index of John Sturdy's research pages

[Research index]

Reflection and types

Reflection and the boundaries of reflection

My PhD was in reflective mixed-language programming systems. Although presented as an exploration of functional and procedural programming, the interesting underlying thought was largely about the link between representation and interpretation; had I had a more mathematical background, it might have appeared more as a thesis on self-applicable type theory.

After that, I went into the software industry as a programmer for over a decade, then came back a postdoctoral research fellow on the project B4-step in the Computer Science and Information Systems Department at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

In and since B4STEP, I have been exploring another aspect of ``language acting on language'', in particular, program editing as a linguistic process, and, tying in with this, improvements to the program editing process, using handsfree extensions to GNUemacs as my practical example. Doing this involves re-thinking about how we communicate with computers, particularly as programmers. This leads to the idea of broad and narrow channel communication (broad channels being imposing which an item of meeting is communicated in a single item of communication, and narrow channel is being those in which several communicated actions are acquired to communicate each piece of meaning -- such as the two button interfaces on digital watches), and and in particular to the idea of hybrid channel communication, in which a narrow channel is used to access a wide channel -- for example, entering command words to command line interface via keyboard -- or vice versa, such as selecting a menu entry with a mouse. This leads in turn to the idea of something like a protocol stack in the user and in the computer, and ties back to my interest in representation and interpretation.

My deeper interests

I have great curiosity about what underlies the world and our existence, and for me this involves looking at how representation and interpretation are linked. Linked closely with this is an interest in the boundaries of such representation.

Much of the interesting thought underlying my PhD was about types and their meanings, which in part led on to my interest in representation.


Before I switched to computer science, I did a year of biological natural sciences... the only on-line trace of which I can find is a short article on barnacle responses which I did while on a field trip.

An article about responses of barnacles

My PhD

Other study



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