Reifying Programming

Here is the abstract for my next talk:

The need to think abstractly makes programming difficult, especially for normal people. To make programming more concrete I propose to represent programs as data structures reifying their execution. Programming shifts from editing textual abstractions to direct inspection and manipulation of concrete executions. Reified execution also helps ground abstraction through a new testing mechanism: interventions. An intervention tests and overrides behavior at a specific point within a reified execution, replacing hand-coded tests and mocks. Intervention points are stable because programs are edited structurally, not textually. Interventions also provide scaffolding that assists program development through refactoring-like steps of gradual abstraction.

Update Here is the video I submitted to LIVE’17.

5 Replies to “Reifying Programming”

  1. I immediately start speculating about how it could be done. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

  2. I have been chasing this idea myself:

    I have also found the following (invaluable) resources on this topic:

    * Bret Victor’s presentations ( are perhaps the most valuable. In particular, see “Learnable Programming”, “Ladder of Abstraction”, “Drawing Dynamic Visualizations”, and “Stop Drawing Dead Fish”.

    * Intentional Domain Workbench:

    * JetBrains MPS:

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