KMi Hosts 10th Psychology of Programming Conference

Despite the fierce storms the new year saw KMi host an international conference on the Psychology of Programming (PPIG), with speakers from the US, mainland Europe, Israel and Russia. One of the predominant features of the PPIG conferences has been their openness to the variety of contrasting concerns relevant to programming. This year was no exception as we had papers on programming for children, autonomous agents, the psychology of technical review meetings, programming for non-programmers, syntonicity and the use of imagery in program comprehension.
We were fortunate to have two invited speakers, Alexander Repenning and Allen Cypher, who are at the forefront of their fields. Alexander Repenning is one of the world leaders in end user programming environments. He created the examplar end user programming substrate, Agentsheets, which can be used to create domain-oriented programming and simulation environments. The construction paradigm employed by Agentsheets consists of a large number of autonomous, communicating agents organised in a grid, called an Agentsheet. Agents utilise different communication modalities such as animation, sound, and speech. Agentsheets have been used in diverse domains such as art, artificial life, environmental design, games, genetic programming, network design, kitchen design, and visual programming.
Allen Cypher is one of the foremost researchers in the field of Programming by Demonstration. His book "Watch What I Do" (published by MIT Press) is a classic in the field. Allen is also the co-creator of Cocoa, a program that enables children to create their own simulations and games, and to publish them on the World Wide Web. Cocoa now has a large web site and is currently used by hundreds of school children. Before Cocoa, Allen created one of the best known programming by demonstration systems: Eager. Eager constantly watches your actions on the computer, and when it detects a repetitive activity, it writes a program which will perform that activity for you.
The PPIG website can be found at


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