The Feyerabend Project at ETAPS 2003

Call for Position Papers: Feyerabend - Redefining Computing

This incarnation of the Feyerabend workshop is to be held in conjunction with the 7th European Joint Conferences on Theory and Practice of Software (ETAPS 2003), Warsaw, Poland, April 12, 2003


Fifty years into the First Computing Era some of us in the computing arena have come to realize we have made a false start that cannnot be fixed, and for us to finally be able to produce lasting, correct, beautiful, usable, scalable, enjoyable software that stands the tests of time and moral human endeaveor, we need to start over. Perhaps we will be able to salvage some of what we have learned from the First Era, but we expect almost everything except the most mathematical and philosophical fundamentals to be brushed aside.

In 1975, Berkeley philosopher Paul Feyerabend wrote a book called "Against Method", in which he said: " of the most striking features of recent discussions in the history and philosophy of science is the realization that events and developments ... occurred only because some thinkers either decided not to be bound by certain "obvious" methodological rules, or because they unwittingly broke them. This liberal practice, I repeat, is not just a fact of the history of science. It is both reasonable and absolutely necessary for the growth of knowledge. More specifically, one can show the following: given any rule, however "fundamental" or necessary" for science, there are always circumstances when it is advisable not only to ignore the rule, but to adopt its opposite."

In "The Invisible Computer", Donald Norman wrote, "...the current paradigm is so thoroughly established that the only way to change is to start over again."

The Feyerabend Project is an attempt (triggerd by Richard P. Gabriel) to repair the arena of software development and practice. This workshop is one in a series leading up to an event to reinvent computing. For that event, a most diverse group of 75 people will be put together. The result of the two-week event will be the first steps toward a roadmap for massive rebuilding of computing - both as a theoretical endeavor as a practice - and toward a plan to accomplish it.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together everyone who is interested in the redefinition of computing and/or in the use of alternative metaphors/languages/ideas for entering the Next Era of computer science. We will try to funnel the brainstorm sessions into thoughts about possible notions of computation, both new and old. The goal is to collect diverse contributions for a reconsideration of existing technology. This is pretty much in the same spirit of the 'computational rainbow' exercise that has been done in one of the previous workshops: the goal of that exercise was to emphasize the existing diversity in computing which might have become hidden or ignored due to a quest for the one 'right', 'general-purpose' solution.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

Submission Guideline

Authors are strongly invited to submit a position paper or essay containing their vision on the redefinition of computing. The essay should not exceed 4 pages and should be submitted by February 5, 2003. Accompanying this paper, authors are expected to submit a topic of discussion they would like to see addressed during the workshop. Sumissions are required in electronic form. Please send an e-mail containing your essay in Postscript or pdf to All essays will be published on the workshop web site.

Extended deadline for paper submissions: March 28th, 2003
Early registration deadline: February 5th, 2003

Organisers - Short Biography

Pascal Costanza has an MS degree from the University of Bonn, Germany, and has been a research assistant at the University of Bonn for the last 4 years, focusing mostly on programming language constructs for unanticipated software evolution. Currently he pursues these issues in the Tailor Project which is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Previously, he has also been involved in the definition of the programming language Lava.

Wolfgang De Meuter is a research assistant at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He has been active in the field of object-orientation since the early nineties. He has done research about (the denotational semantics of and evaluators for) prototype-based languages. His current research interests include programming languages and their evaluators, aspect-oriented programming, meta-programming and more recently also language constructs and abstraction barriers for strong mobile systems.

Martine Devos works as researcher for Avayalabs. Her main focus is on the use of IS - and "softer software" - to support change programs and learning. Special interests are software product lines, the use of patterns in organisation, the human side of IS and facilitating workshops. She participated in, and organised, several workshops and panels on System Envisioning, the use of creativity in requirements developing. She was conference-chair of EuroPlop 2000 and Tools Eastern Europe 2002.

Dave Thomas has over 30 years of experience as a developer, professor, consultant, architect, manager, president, and CEO. He has held academic positions in Engineering and Schools of Business and Computer Science at Carleton University and currently holds an adjunct research professorship at Carleton University, where he was previously director of the Object-Oriented Research Group. Dave is the founder, past CEO and president of Object Technology International Inc. He has been the principal visionary and architect for IBM VisualAge Java/Smalltalk tools and virtual machines as well as IBM's over all object/component strategy. In 1997, Dave Thomas formed Bedarra Corporation, a privately held management consulting company that helps clients develop technology-leveraged products and services, new R&D programs and modern "Just In Time Software" processes.