Brown CS News

Krishnamurthi And Multiple Alums Win An OOPSLA Most Influential Paper Award For Flapjax


Click the links that follow for more news about Shriram Krishnamurthi and other recent accomplishments by our alums and faculty.

"Two weeks before the OOPSLA 2009 deadline," remembers Brown CS alum Arjun Guha (now Associate Professor of Computer Science at University of Massachusetts, Amherst), "Shriram declared that it was time to actually write a Flapjax paper. That isn't much time, but since we had so much experience, the system was so polished, and because I had decided to drop a class to focus on writing, it actually came together easily."

Co-written with Brown CS alums Leo A. Meyerovich (now at Graphistry), Jacob Baskin (now at Coord), Gregory H. Cooper (now at Google), Michael Greenberg (now at Pomona College), and Aleksandra N. Culver (now at Google) and Brown CS Professor Shriram Krishnamurthi, that paper ("Flapjax: A Programming Language for Ajax Applications"), which presented a new language designed for contemporary web applications, has won the OOPSLA Most Influential Paper Award.

First released in 2006, Flapjax added now-ubiquitous reactive abstractions to Web programming. Specifically, it borrowed from functional reactive programming to (1) provide event streams, a uniform abstraction for communication within a program as well as with external Web services, and (2) automatically track dependencies and propagating updates along those dataflows. This allows developers to write reactive interfaces in a declarative and compositional style. Built on top of JavaScript, Flapjax runs on unmodified browsers and readily interoperates with existing JavaScript code, usable as either a programming language (that is compiled to JavaScript) or as a JavaScript library. 

As Arjun noted in his acceptance speech, a paper about Flapjax didn't come until three years later. During those three years, the language was part of multiple research projects: undergraduate honors theses for Jacob, Leo, and Michael; a PhD thesis from Gregory; and two papers by Arjun.

"The lesson that I took away from it as a junior graduate student," Arjun said of the Flapjax project, "was that it is worthwhile and rewarding to take the time to build systems that work, and that the approach leads to better and more research."

For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.