Prelaunch event “What is (computer) program?” – a roundtable

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We are happy to announce the roundtable “What is a (computer) program?”, to be held on October 20, 2017 at CNAM, 11h-17h, Amphi C Abbé Grégoire, Paris. This is the pre-launch event of the ANR JCJC funded project “What is a program? Historical and Philosophical perspectives” (PROGRAMme, PI: Liesbeth De Mol) and affiliated with the colloquium Unix in France and in the United States: innovation, diffusion and appropriation, October 19, CNAM, Paris.

Registration In order to register, please send a mail to: Registration is free but required in order to attend the roundtable

Abstract What is a computer program? This seemingly simple question, which lies at the heart of computer science, has no simple answer today, neither in academia nor in industry. Nonetheless, the responses one gives to it affect very real problems, such as the issue of responsibility when a given piece of software fails. Instead of a unique answer to this question, one finds a diversity of explicit or implicit understandings of “program” within different practices which are determined by the different assumptions, methods and solutions to particular issues within those very same practices (and conversely).

The ambition of PROGRAMme is to offer the first coherent analysis and pluralistic understanding of “program” using a combination of historical insights and philosophical analyses. This allows to retrace the different meanings of “program” through its own history and, by so doing, to identify and render transparent the different understandings and practices underpinning “program”. This will make it possible to (re)-construct the fundamentals of “programs”, which liberate rather than restrict its meaning. This project thus requires historical, philosophical and computer science competences and a major challenge will be its interdisciplinarity both methodologically and practically. The aim of this roundtable is to offer a first opportunity to present some of the major challenges, methods insights and/or issues related to “program” from different perspectives (historical, philosophical, theoretical, formal) and in different (related) contexts (logic, computing hardware, programming languages, software systems). Some questions to be tackled are:

– What and who determines the meaning(s) of “program”?

– What are the “meanings” of “program”?

– How does a particular understanding of “program” restrict and determine a given social, technical and/or scientific practice, and conversely?

– What is the connection between program, language, algorithm, machine and/or user practice?

– In how far are programming practices determined by (a) machine architectures (b) formalism and logic (c) use

– What does it mean for two programs to be “equal”

Confirmed participants are: Selmer Bringsjord (Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Lab), Maarten Bullynck (Université de Paris 8), Felice Cardone (Università degli Studi di Torino), Edgar Daylight (Siegen University), Marie-José Durand-Richard (Sphère, Université Paris-Diderot), Simone Martini (Università di Bologna), Pierre Mounier-Kuhn (CNRS, Centre Roland Mousnier), Elisabetta Mori (Middlesex University), Camille Paloque-Berges (CNAM), Giuseppe Primiero (Middlesex University), Franck Varenne (Université de Rouen)


11.00: Introduction (L. De Mol)

11.15 – 13.00: Simone Martini (Università di Bologna); Pierre Mounier-Kuhn (CNRS, Centre Roland Mousnier); Giuseppe Primiero (Middlesex University); Franck Varenne (Université de Rouen); Camille Paloque-Berges (CNAM)

13.00-14.00: Lunch

14.00-16.00: Maarten Bullynck (Université de Paris 8); Marie-José Durand-Richard (Sphère, Université Paris-Diderot); Felice Cardone (Università degli Studi di Torino); Selmer Bringsjord (Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Lab); Edgar Daylight (Siegen University); Elisabetta Mori (Middlesex University)

16.00-17.00: Reception

ANR project: What is a program? Historical and philosophical perspectives