Mon 1 Jun 2020

This page will soon grow in content and contain information about the scope of this research track.

Call for Papers

For HOPL-IV the committee encourages submissions that discuss and analyze the historical development of individual programming languages, programming language families, language features, design themes, and other strong influences on the direction of programming language design, implementation, and usage. A HOPL-IV paper that is about a single specific language should detail the early history or evolution of that language and the motivation for creating that new language; ideas about the language should have been documented by 2009, and the language should have been widely used by 2011. A HOPL-IV paper that addresses a language or language family already described in a previous HOPL conference should provide substantial new detail about language evolution, development and standardization activities, new dialects and implementations, significant publications, applications, user groups, and other technical and social consequences. A HOPL-IV paper about a more general historical theme or trend should cover a span of at least twenty years.

The Program Committee will work closely with prospective authors to ensure that both the content and presentation of the papers are of high quality. There will be two rounds of careful reviewing. The first round will select the papers for the conference (conditional acceptance); the second round will polish the papers and ensure that they meet the requirements for technical accuracy, historical completeness, and clarity. For each selected paper, a member of the Program Committee will be assigned as a “shepherd” to ensure that intermediate drafts are carefully revised and written clearly, and that the recommendations of reviewers are addressed.

Complete Author Guidelines and Instructions will soon be posted here. Because of the complex nature of the history of programming languages, there is no upper bound on the length of submitted papers—authors should strive for completeness. We strongly recommend that prospective authors examine papers presented at previous HOPL conferences to get an idea of appropriate length, content, and organization. The website http://research.ihost.com/hopl has information about past HOPL conferences and links to their proceedings.

Papers awaiting acceptance to any other conference or journal are not eligible for submission to HOPL-IV. If a closely related paper has been submitted elsewhere, the HOPL-IV chairs must be notified. Authors of accepted papers are expected to make presentations (to be recorded in video form) at the conference. Final papers and video recordings of the presentations will be placed in the ACM Digital Library.

PC committee member policy: There will be no restriction on submissions from PC members. The program chairs/general chairs may not submit papers. PC papers will be held to a higher standard than other papers. The criterion for acceptability of a PC paper is a clear accept.

Authors should submit a 1-page abstract by July 31, 2018. Full papers for the first round are due on August 31, 2018, with notification to authors in February 2019. Second-round submissions will be due in August 2019, with notification to authors in January 2020. Final copy will be due in March 2020. Authors of accepted papers will be required to sign ACM copyright release forms.

Inquiries may be sent to Hopl4 (preferred)—or, if that does not work for some reason, to the program co-chairs directly.

HOPL has been held only infrequently; the first three were in 1978, 1993, and 2007. HOPL-IV is scheduled for June 2020.


The first History of Programming Language Conference (now also called HOPL-I) was held in 1978. [ACM website; historical website] The program chair, Jean Sammet, established the general format and rigorous reviewing criteria that have been followed ever since. (Sammet was also the author of the book Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals, an encylopedic survey of programming languages as of 1969.)

Each HOPL-I paper discussed the development and evolution of a computer programming language, the people who participated in that work, and the context in which it was undertaken. A separate brief technical summary of each presented language was also prepared, either by the authors of the corresponding paper or by a separate invited expert. For each paper there was an oral presentation at the conference, followed by a relatively lengthy question-and-answer session, both of which were transcribed and published. Papers on these languages were presented at HOPL-I:

ALGOL (American side) COBOL LISP
ALGOL (European side) FORTRAN PL/I
BASIC JOVIAL language summaries

The HOPL-I proceedings were also published as a book, edited by Richard Wexelblat.


HOPL-II, held in 1993, was also chaired by Jean Sammet. [ACM website; historical website] Some papers addressed concepts and/or language families rather than single languages. As for HOPL-I, a separate brief technical summary of each presented language was also prepared, either by the authors of the corresponding paper or by separate invited experts. Papers on these fourteen topics were presented at HOPL-II:

Ada (and summary) ALGOL 68 (and summary) Smalltalk (and summary)
C (and summary) Forth (and summary) Discrete Event Simulation Languages (and summary)
C++ 1979–1991 (and summary) FORMAC (and summary) Evolution of Lisp (and summary)
CLU (and summary) Pascal (and summary) Monitors and Concurrent Pascal (and summary)
Icon (and summary) Prolog (and summary)

The HOPL-II proceedings were also published as a book, edited by Thomas Bergin and Richard Gibson. (The transcripts of the presentations and discussion appear only in the book, not on the ACM website.)


In 2007, HOPL-III was chaired by Barbara Ryder and Brent Hailpern, with Jean Sammet on the program committee. [ACM website; historical website] For this conference, all oral sessions were videotaped. The twelve papers at HOPL-III described thirteen languages:

AppleScript Erlang Modula-2 and Oberon
BETA Haskell Self
C++ 1991–2006 High Performance Fortran (HPF) Statecharts
Emerald Lua ZPL

The HOPL-III conference also included the retrospective multimedia keynote presentation 50 in 50 (also reprised at Yow! 2010 and viewable here).

Important Dates AoE (UTC-12h)
Tue 31 Jul 2018
One-page abstracts due from authors
Fri 31 Aug 2018
Complete first drafts due from authors
Fri 15 Feb 2019
Notification and in-depth reviews to authors
Fri 30 Aug 2019
Second-round drafts due from authors
Fri 10 Jan 2020
Notification and in-depth reviews to authors
Fri 13 Mar 2020
Final copy due from authors
Wed 17 Jun 2020
HOPL-IV conference @PLDI 2020 (precise dates to be determined)