In the wake and fanfare of the disclosure of the LINQ technology preview at the PDC 2005 in Los Angeles this last week, a member of the LINQ design team was presented with a prestigious award for outstanding achievement above and beyond his peers. Erik Meijer, most known for his antics as "Head in the Box" for VB TV and author of many research and academic papers such as "Programming with Circles, Triangles, Rectangles and other 3rd grade geometry", was surprised to find himself the award’s recipient. “The competition was pretty tough,” he was heard to say as he was lead off stage. “I had no idea I would win this thing. I just knew I had to try.”
I interviewed Erik the next day, sometime past noon when he had recovered from the celebration enough to speak coherently.
Did you ever think that your work on Haskell, VB, C-Omega and now LINQ would culminate in this?
I’m not sure what you mean. Really, that prior work speaks for itself. There’s a lot of crazy stuff in there, even for me. If you lay them out, side by side, you can see each one progressing further and further, each language referring back and forth to each other over time. It’s so Escher.
Speaking of crazy, you’re quite well known for your antics with “Head in the Box” and your wild ideas on programming languages evidenced by your numerous publications. Are these things what drove you toward the achievement last night?
Definitely. Everyone knows I’m a risk taker. I like to do wild and crazy things. Languages are just one of them. It’s like surfing, parasailing or sky-diving, you’ve just got to hang and on a go for it.
Did you always think you had what it takes to be a winner like this?
It’s not something you think about. It’s just something you do. Like when the guys in the data team asked me to help think about querying in programming languages and I didn’t really know what to do, so I just started spouting off about triangles and whatnot, waiting for their eyes to glaze over. That gave me the time to put together a plan. It’s just a skill I have I guess, my competitive side showing through. When everything came around again with LINQ I knew the geometry play would not be enough, so I tossed ‘Monads’ at them like a stun grenade. You should have been there.
What about ‘homomorphic lifting’? You’ve been heard to utter that one on occasion.
Yes, that too. Except that one still works. It’s always good for a laugh. It puts the design team into a tizzy.
So what do you think sealed the win for you last night? Was it your zest for life? Was it your competitiveness?
Well, it definitely had something to do with the large protein shake made from fish guts, liver and insect parts.
Well, there you have it, Erik Meijer, LINQ designer and winner of Universal Studio’s Fear Factor Live. It’s the programming that drove him crazy; crazy enough to be a winner.