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Professor is Keynote Speaker at Large Scala Workshop

Friday, July 25, 2014
The introduction to the art of programming using scala

Trinity computer science professor Mark Lewis to give address at conference in Sweden

by Michelle Bartonico '08

As computer scientists from around the world gear up for the 5th annual Scala Workshop in Uppsala, Sweden, on July 28 and 29, Trinity University’s computer science professor Mark Lewis is preparing his keynote address.

Scala, a programming language created in 2003, captured the attention of a broader audience in 2009 when Twitter adopted it for the back-end of its server. Since this time, Scala has been developing a steady user base including individuals like Lewis.

“I got into the language around that same time,” said Lewis. “When re-evaluating department curriculum, I realized that Scala might work well for one of the changes we wanted to make in the introductory course.”

However, as Lewis started looking for course materials on Scala, he discovered that this documentation really did not exist. “Since there were no teaching materials for using Scala at that level, I wrote my own and that became my textbook,” said Lewis. “In 2010, I believe Trinity was the first university to start using Scala in this way, and by 2012, we were still one of the few institutions.”

Lewis’s textbook, Introduction to the Art of Programming Using Scala, will surely be a topic of discussion as curious minds meet Lewis and hear his keynote address, “Experiences with Scala for Introductory CS.”

“The introductory courses are intended to provide a foundation in programming, problem solving, and algorithmic thinking,” said Lewis.

As the emphasis on technology and computer science becomes more prevalent, it is this type of trailblazing initiative that enables others to expand their education. Lewis and his colleagues in the computer science department continue to demonstrate their commitment to being at the forefront of technology and sharing knowledge with others.

“There is no doubt that languages in general are proliferating and very few workplaces these days will focus on a single language,” said Lewis. “What matters for educators is to make sure that a CS program covers a variety of languages in different paradigms, which improves a programmer’s ability to continue learning and updating their skills through their entire career.”

Professionally for Lewis, his current quest is learning some of the more significant Scala libraries, Akka and Play. Knowledge of Akka can be applied to his numerical simulation research, and Play could be significant when teaching web development in the future.

To keep up with the Scala workshop on Twitter, follow @scala_lang or #scala2014.

Michelle Bartonico is the associate director for marketing communications and a 2008 Trinity graduate. You can reach her at mbartonico [at] trinity.edu.