Any functional programming people in the greater Stockholm area?

Mike Elliott <>
Mon Mar 7 22:38:33 CET 2011


Hi --

The document DO-178B/ED-12B specifies the means by which software can
be developed for aircraft which operate in civil airspace.  As such,
all aircraft for which civil airworthiness certification is required
and which contain software (which is pretty much all aircraft outside
of purely military operations) must have that software developed in
accordance to that standard.

This standard was written in 1992 and, not surprisingly, has become
somewhat out of date.  The new version (DO-178C/ED-12C) has been in
development for the last five years and seeks to address many of the
shortcomings of the current document.  In particular, the topic of
Object-oriented Programming was addressed by forming a subgroup for
Object-oriented and Related Technologies, in an effort to make the use
of OO possible in this restricted, highly safety-critical environment.

I am a member of that subgroup and, for the past four years, have been
one of the authors of the OO supplement.  Some of us, however,
recognized the possibility of future use of functional programming in
this problem space and did the best we could to cover the fundamental
needs of functional programming without ever actually mentioning it.
The subgroup consists of a dozen or so, none of whom have a background
in functional programming, although as a graduate student at Edinburgh
in 1980, I did get an introduction to ML with Robin Milner and Luca
Cardelli.

The DO-178C/ED-12C standard is being approved by an ultra-conservative
group of safety professionals so we have deliberately walked very
softly in this area.  Nonetheless, in a recent teleconference, I
mentioned that although the OO supplement had not been written with
any mention of Functional Programming, we had deliberately introduced
ideas such as closures and automatic garbage collection with a
deliberate thought about easing the efforts of future practitioners in
taking a functional approach.  This brought about questions along the
line of "What's Functional Programming and Why Should I Care?" which I
thought would not be easily answered during the last five minutes of a
two hour teleconference.

We are having a plenary session (attended by probably about 100 or so)
April 18-22, at the ENEA office in Kista, Sweden.  I have proposed
having a presentation on Functional Programming sometime during this
session.  But, rather than my giving the presentation, since I'm at
best a novice at functional programming, I was curious as to whether
there might be some local talent willing to give it a shot.

This has not yet been approved for the plenary, and may not be, but I
thought I'd see what the possibilities might be.

Let me know --

-- 
============================
Mike Elliott    
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