ML Family Workshop 2020: Call for presentations

We are happy to invite submissions to the ML Family Workshop 2020,
to be held during the ICFP conference week on Thursday,
August 27th.

The ML family workshop warmly welcomes submission touching
on the programming languages traditionally seen as part of the
“ML family” (Standard ML, OCaml, F#, CakeML, SML#, Manticore,
MetaOCaml, etc.). The scope of the workshop includes all aspects
of the design, semantics, theory, application, implementation,
and teaching of the members of the ML family. We also encourage
presentations from related languages (such as Haskell, Scala,
Rust, Nemerle, Links, Koka, F*, Eff, ATS, etc), to exchange
experience of further developing ML ideas.

Currently, the workshop is still scheduled to go ahead as planned
in Jersey City, however it is likely that the ML workshop will
end up being a virtual workshop this year. Either way provisions
will be made to allow speakers to present their work remotely.

See our detailed CFP online on the ICFP website:

Important dates

  • Friday 15th May (any time zone): Abstract submission deadline
  • Friday 26th June: Author notification
  • Thursday 27th August: ML Family Workshop

Program committee

  • Youyou Cong (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
  • Gowtham Kaki (Purdue University)
  • Neel Krishnaswami (University of Cambridge)
  • Daan Leijen (Microsoft Research)
  • Koko Muroya (Kyoto University)
  • Atsushi Ohori (Tohoku University)
  • Jonathan Protzenko (Microsoft Research)
  • Gabriel Radanne (INRIA)
  • Claudio Russo (Dfinity)
  • Leo White (Jane Street) (Chair)
  • Jeremy Yallop (University of Cambridge)

Submission details

See the online CFP for the details on the expected submission format.

Submissions must be uploaded to the workshop submission website

before the submission deadline.


Is it a whole workshop or just a talk that should be submitted?

This is a call for people to submit 20-25 minute talks, to be presented at the ML Workshop.

ICFP, and by extension the ML workshop, will be now officially be held online with a significantly reduced fee. Due to the change in official status we decided to extend the submission deadline to the end of May.

Important Dates (updated)

  • Friday 29th May (any time zone): Abstract submission deadline
  • Friday 17th July: Author notification
  • Thursday 27th August: ML Family Workshop

I’m an author of a talk that was just accepted at the workshop, and I wonder how we should prepare the talks. (I hope @lpw25 that you don’t mind using the forum for this, let me know otherwise and I’ll go back to email.)

Minor note: the workshop webpage on the ICFP website is out of date in that it still says “Currently, the workshop is still scheduled to go ahead as planned in Jersey City”.

The Call for Presentations says:

Each presentation should take 20-25 minutes, except demos, which should take 10-15 minutes. The exact time will be decided based on the number of accepted submissions. The presentations will likely be recorded.

Have you decided yet how the online conference will proceed from the speaker point of view? I wonder about the following:

  • Do we know for sure that we are going for pre-recorded talks, instead of live talks?
  • Will there be a deadline for recording and uploading talk strictly before the workshop date? (Has the deadline been decided?)
  • Are there specific rules or recommendations for recording the talks? I would assume that we are recording just the speaker face giving the talk, and send slides separately? (Do people give timing information on the slides?) Is there a forced format for the slide, it has to be a PDF, or could a HTML presentation do as well?

I will be in holidays for part of August, so knowing early would help scheduling the preparation work.

(cc @ivg who might be facing the same questions for the OCaml Workshop.)


In terms of the logistics, my plan is basically to follow what the main ICFP conference is doing. The details are still being worked out but so far:

  • Talks will be pre-recorded
  • There will be a deadline in advance of the workshop for the recordings. ICFP is using August 8th. We can probably be a bit more lenient than that, but I expect it to be at least a week before the workshop.
  • In terms of recommendations, there is this.
  • We will have time for ~20min talks and ~5mins of questions. We may adjust that a bit – I think maybe talks are quicker when prerecorded and questions take longer when virtual.

I’ll try to send an email out this weekend to authors with some more concrete details.


The ML workshop is coming up; authors have pre-recorded talk videos, and ICFP is organizing synchronous Q&A sessions for the scheduled workshop day, August 27th.

Unfortunately, the synchronous Q&A sessions will not be available to some of us due to two issues:

  1. The ICFP conference decided that all workshops would follow the same time slots, which correspond to the usual workshop hours in New York time. On my timezone this means that most Q&A session slots are late in the evening or in the night; I expect that most speakers in Europe are similarly inconvenienced.
  2. ICFP decided to have registration fees of $100 for an online conference. I believe that online conference should be free, and did not register to the whole conference. If I understand @lpw25 correctly, this means that I will not have access to the Q&A services anyway as an author at the ML workshop – and I expect that many potential attendees have be similarly driven off by the registration fee.

I believe that these two issues could be alleviated by having an additional, alternative way to have Q&A sessions that would be (1) less synchronous (spanning several days to cover all timezones) and (2) free to use. I’m thinking of setting up a subreddit, or an IRC channel, or possibly a Zulip chat, that would be active during the ICFP week, on which people could ask question for the talks I am co-author of.

(This is assuming that the ML-workshop videos are made available publicly as they are available; @lpw25, can you confirm that this will be the case?)

I would be interested in knowing if other ML workshop authors (or why not other workshops) would be interested in participating to these alternative, semi-synchronous Q&A sessions. If so, do you have preference on the tool used for discussion, for example among reddit, IRC and Zulip?

cc @octachron, @Drup, @let-def, @gadmm, @charguer

(I wish there was a better place to discuss the ML workshop organization, but unfortunately I don’t know of any. Please let me know if you know of another publicly-available forum that would be more appropriate.)


Ok to participate in an asynchronous Q&A. I prefer IRC or maybe simply just here, discuss?

I think that the OCaml discuss is not the best place for the ML Workshop: the scope of the workshop is broader than OCaml, and we want people from other ML languages feel encourage to participate. (This year a majority of talks comes from the OCaml side, so it’s especially important not to be territorial.)

Thinking about it again, IRC has the downside of not having history: if we want to encourage semi-synchronous workflows were authors can answer questions asked while they were away, it sounds better to use a technology that enables a persistent history by default, well-integrated into the interface.

I think organizing complementary Q&A sessions is a good idea. I am not sure what is the best channel. Maybe a new ml subreddit?

Why not, I vote for any chat protocol with rooms (so that we can make per-paper rooms). I vote against reddit for this purpose.

Be careful, anything dubbed only “ML” will be instantly invaded by Machine Learning people.


I have been considering making a Zulip installation of “” service available recently, based on the positive experiences of the Coq and Recurse community with using it as a threaded chat mechanism. If it would be useful to kick start for discussion among the OCaml and ML workshop papers, the installation shouldn’t take me long.

I won’t install it until next week however, as I’d like to show strong support for the ICFP organising committee’s hard work this week. Organising the virtual conference has been a tremendous effort at short notice from our volunteer colleagues, and it would be good not to detract focus from their efforts. @ivg and I are planning to publish all the video/slide proceedings from the OCaml Workshop online at after the conference is finished, where it’ll be available indefinitely without depending on any particular streaming platform.

Just a quick note on this: ICFP announced well in advance that it would waive registration fees for anyone that requested one:

The ICFP 2020 organizing committee is committed to developing a diverse community, accessible to everyone. If you would like to request a waiver of the registration fee, please fill out the waiver form by 8 August, 2020.

I’m not involved in the ICFP organisation this year, but I recognise there are many costs associated with having it online, not all of which is covered by the sponsor fees. Being able to exchange money in return for goods and services (e.g. closed caption titling, streaming resources, etc) makes the volunteer organisers jobs much much easier.

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I’m fine with people arranging additional methods for them to answer questions, and will happily point attendees towards them. I’d just like to emphasize that these should be considered additional venues for answering questions – I do not want a sudden exodus of presenters from attending their Q&A sessions.

This is assuming that the ML-workshop videos are made available publicly as they are available; @lpw25, can you confirm that this will be the case?

I’m hoping to make them available, but I think that requires that authors return their video release forms before Thursday. Currently I have maybe half of them.

Speaking of the OCaml workshop. The videos will be available at the time of the conference, we will either open all of them at Friday or schedule to appear according to the schedule, we didn’t decide yet. But the main idea is that if you’re not registered at ICFP you will still be able to view the presentation at the same time as ICFP participants will see.

We can, technically, arrange broadcasting of the presentation, which will include the interactive Q&A session as well, to YouTube. I am a little bit confused with the legal part of that. We have permissions from the presenters to broadcast them, but I am not sure what about the other attendees of ICFP who will be asking questions. I will take a look into this. I think it should fine, given that ICFP is currently broadcasting live through YouTube.

If we will be able to set up the live-casting to YouTube, then it will be viable to set up the chat where people without ICFP registration could post their questions, which we can forward to the authors, as well as to start discussions. Unlike the ML workshop, I think we can totally rely on the existing OCaml infrastructure :slight_smile:


Interesting! I had never head of this waiver thing before your post, and I looked at why. The first trace I can find of this mention of a waiver is in the Second Call for Participation that went out for ICFP on August 6th. Looking at the web, this blog post announced it on August 4th. I see no mention of this waiver programme before August 4th… and the call was closed on August 8th. I went on vacation on July 29th, so I missed this waiver intiative entirely.

Call me grumpy, but I wouldn’t count announcing something on August 4th, for a conference to start on August 24th, to be “well in advance”.

Also: I think that this waiver program is somewhat of a distraction from the core issue that there is no good justification for having registration fees for online conferences. There are many ways to make online conferences free (LICS, PLDI, FSCD succeeded in doing that just fine); yes, there are costs to running online services, but those are costs that our sponsors and many institutions would be happy to cover. Having a registration fee raises the barrier to entry considerably, and “… but there is a way out if you ask gently to the right people and are accepted” only lowers it back slightly.

I certainly agree, but that does not explain why I should pay $100 for the privilege of answering questions about my work after dinner time to the ML workshop audience.

Of course, this would be strictly additional. Thanks for being very accommodating with the organization.

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Well, it’s more in advance than raising this issue on the first day of the conference :slight_smile: I’m personally inclined to cut the organisers a lot more slack than usual – they built an entire conference platform (Clowdr) for PLDI, and then switched straight to fixing the issues and deploying it for ICFP after that. I imagine that the streaming costs for the conference simply weren’t clear until the dust settled from PLDI. And, having served as the industrial relations chair for ICFP for quite a few years, I can assure you that it is far from trivial to convince sponsors to give you money on short notice (and I wouldn’t be surprised if some sponsors withdrew their support due to the global situation).

I’m of course fully supportive of your goal of future conferences being unconditionally free and open to all. At least now that the global situation has settled into an uneasy equilibrium, they can benefit from the experiences of PLDI, ICFP, etc and plan their finances and sponsorships appropriately. And on a positive note: Stephanie Weirich (the ICFP GC) reported that there were over 1100 registrants this morning: more than ever seen before at a physical ICFP. I’m really looking forward to both the ML and OCaml workshops to see how many of these new people show up!

Regarding the Zulip deployment, I’ve had a number of private messages that it is a good approach, and none against (beyond not wanting yet another chat mechanism). I’ll create a separate thread about that on this forum when it’s ready to test, as it’s getting off-topic for a thread about the ML workshop.


I went ahead and created a Zulip chatroom for people to ask asynchronous questions on workshop presentations (I intend to use it for my own ML workshop presentations, but if someone from another workshop has a use for it, please feel free).

Registration should be open to anyone. If you are an author of a talk and would like to receive asynchronous questions there (in addition to, not replacement of, ICFP’s Q&A mechanism), please just create a topic for your talk in the appropriate stream. (To create a topic just start writing a new message and edit the topic name.) Let me know if something doesn’t work!

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I looked for a comparison: PLDI (also online, free registration) had 4297 registrants this year, including 1083 who posted on the Slack channel. (They report “around 450 registrants” for past physical conferences; I can’t find again the number of attendees for ICFP 2019 but I believe that it is very similar, maybe slightly higher.)

Edit: this being said, I think that the comparison is somewhat moot: what really counts is how many people have access to the scientific content provided by ICFP authors. Thankfully, a Youtube stream is available for anyone to follow the presentations for free. So we should be looking at the engagement numbers on Youtube after the conference ended. I still find it unfortunate that for-free participants are made to feel as second-class citizens; but I think that not having access to Q&A tools is probably fine for viewers, it is only really problematic for authors of presentations.

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