There was a co-located workshop called FOOL, or Foundation of Object-Oriented Languages (http://fool2013.cs.brown.edu/). It was a gathering of mainly static-type theorists. I snuck into it when I saw David Ungar and Gilad Bracha chatting there, so I anticipated something would happen. Kim Bruce was about to give his keynote on the history of last 20 years of FOOL.
After Kim Bruce' talk, Dave Ungar asked a question (I paraphrase): "What is the best thing that came out from this community that contributed to the real world, beyond academics, in last 20 years?" (Well, he clearly was trying to be usual Dave Ungar and be provocative). Answers from audience were "GJ", "F-bounded polymorphism, the idea of contravariance of inherited methods, and killing Eiffel and shut Bertrand Meyer up; but not much more. Dave was unconvinced (he would not be convinced with these answers from the beginning anyway). When one answer mentioned that static-typing is good for documentation, Dave then suddenly quoted my talk; He said (to the effect) that "there was a fantastic talk by a young fellow in the morning, who turned a few hundreds of thousands (sic, I corrected it to hundreds of millions) lines of code into 20,000 lines of clear code. That could be a better documentation!" It is flattering but I really did not want to be involved in a controversy with type theorists!
SPLASHという名の下にいくつかのワークショップが開かれているのですが、その中の一つに、FOOL (Foundations of Object-Oriented Languages: http://fool2013.cs.brown.edu/)という、静的型や型理論に重点を置いたものがあります。日曜日に自分の発表が終わってお昼ご飯を食べた後で、David UngarとGilad Brachaがその部屋でだべっているのを見たので私もそっと入ってみました。
Kim Bruceが「FOOL 20周年について語る」というキーノートを始めるところでした。歴史物を聞くのは好きなのでなかなか楽しい話でした。質疑応答の時間になって、Daveが期待を裏切らずに質問します。「なるべく上手に質問したいと思うんだけど、このコミュニティが20年間やってきた成果の中で、実社会に影響を与えたものとして最大のものといえばなんだっただろうか？」と。"F-bounded”とか、” contravariance”とか、Bertrand MeyerをだまらせてEiffelに引導を渡した、とかの答えが出るのですが、まあDaveは最初から「ほら、あんまりないだろう」というつもりで質問しているので納得はしません(それがなかったらGoogleは生まれていなかったというような規模の貢献があるのか、と聞いているんだ、と)。「型というのはドキュメンテーションとしての意味があるから」という答えが出たのに対して、Daveがいきなり「今朝のAGEREで『若いやつ』が面白い発表をしていたけど、何十万行(じゃなくて本当は何億行)ものコードで書かれているようなものを2万行にまとめてしまったという話だった。そういう風に美しいコードを書くことがさらによいドキュメンテーションになるのだ。あ、なんだ、ここにいるじゃないか」と言って、すぐ隣に座っていた私に話を振ろうとしてきました。慎み深い私は巻き込まれないように余り多くは言わないようにして逃げてしまいましたが。あー、びっくりした。
私も子供が学校に行き始めました。親も集まる全校集会が"Pledge of Allegiance"で始まるのを見て、「私がloyality questionsを投げかけられたら」とは思わなくはないわけです。
Andreas Raab, my friend and colleague of fourteen years, just passed away (he was only in his mid- 40's). He had a razor-sharp brain, and could write best-quality code. Not only that, he could manage projects and get a group of people to work. Alan Kay and David Smith say that Andreas is one of the top three programmers they have ever met. This says a lot.
The way I got to know Andreas was through a software project called Squeak. He ported the Squeak virtual machine to Windows while he was a Ph.D student at the Magdeburg university in 1997. The core team members of Squeak, led by Alan Kay, were very much impressed with his talent. They basically had no way to let him go somewhere else. So when Andreas graduated, they just hired him and took him to California. It didn't take long that he became the productive members of the core team.
I was also a Ph.D student at the Tokyo Institute of Technology around that time. Prof. Satoshi Matsuoka had a connection to a member of the Squeak Central, and that led me to try to port the virtual machine to a PDA called Sharp Zaurus. In 1998, I managed to make it (barely) work, much of it can be attributed to reading the code Andreas had written. By doing so, I got to start communicating with the Squeak group, and, eventually I got a job at the group at Disney when the luck and twists of events prevailed. Whenever I witnessed the brilliance of Andreas, I always thought "Andreas set a precedence of a young guy who ported the VM could do so many other things brilliantly. He paved the way and let me sneak in here, when I am no match with him." Also in this sense, "I would not be myself here today if he was not there."
He was from former East Germany and as far as I know he even did military service (shorter than normal as benefit of being a smart boy). I thought I see the remnant of training there occasionally. When five of us got on to a small car and Andreas got the middle seat, or when we got on a crowded Shinkansen train, he just could stay still for a long time without complaining. I imagined that this has something to do with his training. Thinking about this root, one thing to be said is that "he was somebody who could transform himself"; he started being not only a smart guy but added "more depth to his character", stop smoking after a while in California, and endorse the capitalist ideals when he started a start up company (actually, companies). Not only that, he became a guy of love and family! I would imagine that many of us seeing him over time thought that "is that the same Andreas?" at many times; he was a walking manifestation of the idea of "being yourself by changing constantly". (He could argue for something with perfectly logical argument on one day, then a few days later he could argue against it with equally perfect logic.)
Yes, he was a person of love and family. I had an opportunity of attending his wedding 16 months ago. And when Kathleen and he visited us in California as a part of the honeymoon trip, we cooked together family foods of Germany and Japan for dinner. During the grocery shopping and cooking for the dinner, how happy and sweet Andreas looked! They became "pen pals" of my daughter and they often sent us gifts and letter on occasions. It really breaks my heart when I think about her (and the baby).
There is a post he made to the Squeak developers mailing list right after the 9/11 incident. It was a community of thousands from different countries; so there were some off-topic posts that caused stir. But Andreas posted a message, which basically said that we need to keep working on to build a better future:
There must be many in the community who had similar lines of thoughts, but besides the idea itself, the way he clearly articulate the idea and posted it promptly gave me a very strong and lasting impression. I often recall that posts now and then.