Monday, July 21, 2014

LaTeX template for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships application (H2020-MSCA-IF-2014)

I've created  a LaTeX template for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships application (H2020-MSCA-IF-2014). It's based on a version that I found online for the previous call; I've tried to update it for the 2014 call. I made this because I couldn't stand the idea of using the provided Word template (especially because of references). Hopefully it fits within the prescribed guidelines, but I cannot guarantee that. Pull requests to improve the template are welcome!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

POPL 2015 is in India, and I think that is a bad idea

POPL, one of the most important scientific conferences in the field of programming languages, will be held in Mumbai, India, in 2015. I find this rather unfortunate. As a SIGPLAN event, POPL ought to follow the SIGPLAN Conference Anti-Harassment Policy. Quoting from the policy: "Harassment in any form, including but not limited to harassment based on (...) sexual orientation (...) will not be tolerated". Unfortunately, India just recently reinstated a ban on gay sex, and rejected a petition for reconsidering its decision. The law dates from the period of the British rule of India, and is not unlike the British law that lead to the death of Alan Turing. This is a worrying development, and sends a clear message of intolerance and harassment to local or visiting homosexuals.
Personally, I do not feel welcome or even safe in India, and consequently will not attend POPL 2015. I find it regrettable that the POPL Steering Committee failed to keep to its own anti-harassment policy when choosing a venue for POPL 2015.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Media attention

I have had a lot of media attention in the past few days due to a press release from my undergrad university, featuring me as alumnus of the month, and highlighting my role in Chordify. For posterity, here are the places I could find (all in Portuguese): Público, Jornal de Notícias, Correio da Manhã, TSF, TMN, Jornal i, Sol, Minho University's Facebook page, canalsuperior.pt, maissuperior.com, boasnoticias.pt, xpressingmusic.com (interview), 4gnews.pt, pavablog.com.

I've also been interviewed on the Antena 1 radio; you can listen to the interview here (I show up around minute 34).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adoption of ICT to improve security and trust in the UK food chain

I've attended a workshop on Adoption of ICT to improve security and trust in the UK food chain. This workshop is sponsored by the IT as a Utility Network+, as part of the Digital Economy Theme of the Research Councils UK. As you might guess from the title, it aims to "bring together scientific experts, policy makers and technology practitioners" to "explore best practice from around the UK and beyond and strive to identify tools and ICT systems that can be harnessed to improve food product security, traceability, nutritional benefits and consumer confidence with the social, health and economic benefits that can arise".
My general opinion is that the problem is vast, involves a large number of agents, and it's not entirely clear how much ICT alone can do to improve the current situation. Identifying fragments of the problem, and coming up with interactions between industry, academia, and possibly government regulators, to focus on these specific fragments, could be a way to make some progress in tacking this problem, in my opinion.
Technology itself isn't where most of the problem lies. We have the means to track e.g. pigs from birth to slaughter, mostly automatically using implanted chips and automatic scanners. We could keep a large database tracking all the elements that come in and leave a food processing plant, potentially enabling the final consumer to access this data by reading a bar code on a product sitting on a supermarket shelf. However, multiple issues prevent this from being implemented. The technology might exist, but it isn't necessarily cheap; who will pay for the added cost of food? The data in the system is only valuable if it is reliable; how can we ensure this, and protect the system from false information? Data sharing is essential for effective tracking, but are the producers willing to share this data? It is likely that such wide-scale tracking would require legal provisions in order to promote its adoption; is there political support for this?
From a computer science and programming languages point of view, my professional recommendation would be to foster the use of open source technologies. As the number of agents involved is very large, any technology developed for tracking, testing, and controlling the food supply chain should be interoperable and easy to manipulate. Large enterprises might be tempted to develop proprietary sensors, systems, and data description languages, but this should be prevented, both by the industrial customers of the technology as by government regulators, as I believe this will lead to interoperability issues, vendor lock-ins, and loss of the advantages of a competitive market.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to get the Haskell vector-fftw package working under Windows

Just a simple thing I thought I'd share, as it might help others in the future: to get the vector-fftw package working on Windows, you will need the DLLs available at http://www.fftw.org/. So far so good, but when I tried to install the package using cabal install vector-fftw --extra-include-dir=$FFTW --extra-lib-dir=$FFTW, where $FFTW is the path to the fftw DLLs, cabal told me it couldn't find them. It turns out the DLL was called fftw3-3, but the extra-libraries field of the vector-fftw cabal package asks for fftw3. So I renamed that field to fftw3-3, and all worked fine. You'll still need the DLLs to be in your PATH, though.