Platonism and the dominant decomposition

I’m in Portland, Oregon for the SPLASH conference. There’s a lot of energy and good ideas going around.

I gave a talk about my project, Poplar, at the FREECO workshop. At the same workshop there was a very interesting talk given by Klaus Ostermann, outlining some of the various challenges facing software composition. He linked composition of software components to concepts in classical logic, and informally divided composition into a light side and a dark side. On the light side are ideal concepts such as monotonicity (the more axioms we have, the more we can prove), absence of side effects and a single, canonical decomposition of everything. On the dark side are properties such as side effects, the absence of a single decomposition, knowledge that invalidates previously obtained theorems, and so on.

One of the ideas that resonated the most with me is the tyranny of the dominant decomposition. (For instance, a single type hierarchy). Being forced to decompose a system in a single way at all times implies only having a single perspective on it. Is this not platonism coming back to haunt us in programming languages? (Ostermann did indeed say that he suspects that mathematics and the natural sciences have had too much influence on programming). What we might need now is an antiplatonism in programming: we might need subjectivist/perspectivist programming languages. If components can view their peer components in different ways, depending on their domain and their interests (i.e. what kind of stakeholders they are), we might truly obtain flexible, evolvable, organic composition.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *