The University Hall building, on the Summerville Campus.

SERPL 2020 - The Southeast Regional Programming Languages Seminar


The Southeast Regional Programming Languages Seminar (SERPL) seeks to bring together researchers in the Southeastern United States working in the design, analysis, and application of programming languages to build new collaborations among students and researchers.

We invite contributions in the form of student – both undergraduate and graduate – research talks on topics related to programming language research from theory to practice to interdisciplinary applications.

SERPL consists of a full day of research talks from undergraduate and graduate students and one keynote speaker.

We are extremely excited to announce that the keynote talk is

Franklyn A. Turbak,
Associate Professor of Computer Science at Wellesley,
Blocks Programming: A Rich Domain for PL Research

Blocks programming languages represent program syntax trees as compositions of visual code fragments. They are an increasingly popular way to introduce programming and computational thinking. Tens of millions of people have used blocks environments like Scratch, Snap!, MIT App Inventor, Blockly, Pencil Code, Alice/Looking Glass, AgentSheets/AgentCubes, and’s curricula to learn programming and create computational artifacts for themselves, their families, and their communities. But blocks programming is not just for beginners; environments like GP and domain-specific blocks languages are targeted at hobbyists, scientists, artists, business people, and other casual programmers.

Many members of the Programming Languages (PL) research community are either unaware of blocks languages or dismiss them as “just for kids” or “not real programming”. As someone who spent many years working in the areas of functional programming, type systems, and semantics before focusing on blocks programming, I will argue that blocks languages are a rich domain for PL research that combines traditional PL topics with other usually underemphasized areas that should be more front-and-center in the PL research community, including usability, learnability, and computer science education. I will give examples of blocks language projects I’ve worked on with students in my TinkerBlocks research group at Wellesley College and with members of the MIT App Inventor group.


All of the important deadlines are as follows:

  • Talk Abstracts Due: March 20th, 2020
  • Notification of Acceptance: April 3rd, 2020
  • Student Travel Grant Application Due: April 10th, 2020
  • Student Travel Grant Notification: April 17th, 2020
  • Registration closes: April 24th, 2020
  • Seminar: May 8, 2020


SERPL will be held at Augusta University, home of the Augusta University School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, in Augusta, Georgia, USA.


Registration of all SERPL attendees is required, and can be completed by submitting the SERPL registration form.

Submission Instructions

Please submit in the form of a single PDF file a two page talk abstract. All submissions should be prepared using LaTeX using the authors favorite style with a font size of no smaller than 11 points, and a margin of no smaller than one inch.

All submission should be submitted via the following form.

There will be no formal proceedings, but all abstracts and slides will be posted on the SERPL website.

Travel Support

SERPL is graciously supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

We are accepting applications for student travel support to SERPL: please use this form.

In addition, we have set aside a portion of our student travel awards for funding undergraduate students, women, underrepresented minorities, and LBGTQ+ people.

Student travel grant applications can be submitted by filling out the form to come before April 10th. The application requires a letter from the students research supervisor asserting that the student has no other means of funding to attend SERPL.