Papers We Love Conf 2019

September 12, 2019 / St. Louis, Missouri

José Manuel Calderón Trilla


photo of José Manuel Calderón Trilla

What about natural numbers?

30 years ago Colin Runciman asked What About the Natural Numbers? Now, in 2019, we find ourselves in need of a successor to carry Runciman's banner. Despite major advances in type systems and the growing adoption of the slogan 'make illegal states unrepresentable', we often rely on Integers in cases where negative values have no meaning. Runciman's paper reminds us of a fact that we all know: the choice in types can change the nature of an API. Integers are often the default in many systems and APIs, often for no reason beyond programmer familiarity. In this talk we will argue two main points: that for many cases Natural numbers retain all of the positive aspects of the Integers with none of the negatives, and that when designing a system or an API we should constantly be asking ourselves "What about X?"


José Manuel Calderón Trilla studied Music Engineering Technology at the University of Miami before pursuing graduate work in Natural Computation (MSc) and Programming Languages (PhD) at the University of York in the UK.

After his PhD work he became a Research Scientist at Galois, Inc. working mostly on Quantitative Information Flow, compilers, and abstract interpretation. His research interests are in parallel functional languages, DSLs, computer music (particularly the representation and manipulation of structures representing rhythm), and compilers.

Playing music and baking bread are what occupy most of his time, though he has yet to find a way to combine the two hobbies.