skip to content

Department of Computer Science and Technology

Simon Peyton Jones delivering the 2023 Wheeler Lecture

Alumni and students packed out our main lecture theatre today as Simon Peyton Jones delivered the 2023 Wheeler Lecture, 'Beyond functional programming: a taste of Verse'. 

Simon is Engineering Fellow at Epic Games and Honorary Distinguished Fellow of this Department. 

In his lecture, he talked about Verse - a new programming language, being designed at Epic Games as the language of the metaverse.

"Verse is a functional logic language," he told the 250+ attendees, "with a bunch of innovative ideas. Like Haskell, Verse is declarative (a variable in Verse stands for just one, immutable value) and higher order (lambdas are first class). But Verse goes well beyond Haskell, with existential variables, unification, expressions that yield multiple values, and much more besides.

"In this talk I'll give you a sense of what functional logic programming is about, what it looks like to program in Verse, and how we can give meaning to Verse programs using rewrite rules."

About the Wheeler Lectures
The Wheeler Lectures
are an annual series of distinguished lectures named after David Wheeler, one of the early pioneers of Computer Science.

David worked on the original EDSAC computer - the very first computer built here - and wrote one of the first computer programs to be stored in a computer’s working memory. He pioneered the use of sub-routines and is particularly remembered for his work on data compression.

About our speaker
Simon graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1980. After two years in industry, he spent seven years as a lecturer at University College London and nine years as a professor at Glasgow University before joining Microsoft Research (Cambridge) in 1998. He moved to Epic Games as an Engineering Fellow in 2022.

Simon’s main research interest is in functional programming languages, their implementation, and their application. He was a key contributor to the design of the now-standard functional language Haskell, and is the lead designer of the widely-used Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC). He has written two textbooks about the implementation of functional languages. He is particularly motivated by direct application of principled theory to practical language design and implementation — that is one reason he loves functional programming so much.

Simon is chair of Computing at School, the grass-roots organisation that was at the epicentre of the 2014 reform of the English computing curriculum.


Published by Rachel Gardner on Wednesday 15th November 2023