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Sun Brings Java Day Symposium to MIT

By May K. Tse
Staff Reporter

The MIT Java Day Symposium will take place this Friday at the Marriott Hotel in Kendall Square. The event, organized jointly by Sun Microsystems and MIT, is intended to introduce members of the MIT communityto the Java programming language.

"There is a revolution going on now in the computing and communications industry. It is about network computing, Java computing, and [the] Internet," said Norman Koo, a Sun representative. "There is a need for Java on premier campuses"like MIT, he said.

The event is free to all members of the MIT community. It will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although "there's no commitment to attending the whole day - just whatever interests you,"said Vijay Kumar, the director of academic computing in Information Systems.

The symposium "will provide a spectrum of information - more in-depth than what you'd read about in a magazine," Kumar said.

The Java language, which was invented by Sun, can be used for designing applications for the Internet and other distributed networks. Java is currently supported by Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer - two World Wide Web browsers - and is considered by many to represent a substantial part of future programming on the Web.

MIT is the right place for Java

Sun decided in late June that it would hold the symposium at MIT.

"MITis a world-renowned institute of higher learning and incubator of technology changes," Koo said. "Accordingly, Sun chose to come to MITto bring this message of Java computing."

Sun provided financial support for the symposium "in the range of several hundreds of thousands" of dollars,said Norman Koo, a Sun representative. MIT has been coordinating local arrangements and publicity.

There will be a number of speakers at the symposium who are connected in various ways to MIT, including Guy L. Steele Jr. PhD '80, who is helping develop Java at Sun. Steele was also a contributor to versions of MIT Scheme, the language used to teach Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (6.001).

Steele will be addressing the future direction of Java. "Iwill be summarizing the current design of the Java programming language and discussing possible directions for future evolution," Steele said.

Gregory M. Papadopoulos PhD '80, who used to be an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, will address the networking abilities of Java. Papadopoulos is the chief technology officer at Sun.

At Sun, Papadopoulos manages a group of 60 people, half of whom work directly on Java-related technology. Java "has the potential for substantially changing the way that software and content are treated and distributed," he said.

Speakers aim to promote Java

The speakers hope to change their audience's perceptions of Java. "I hope to impart a sense that Java is much more than a programming language,"Papadopoulos said.

"I'd like folks to leave with a sense that it really represents huge opportunities for research and new companies and products,"he said.

Sun's goal is to have about 100 participants in the symposium. A maximum of 125 people will be allowed to attend any single part of the event.

The day will be composed of 30-minute lectures, followed by question-and-answer sessions. Topics range from an overview of Java to discussions of different types of specific Java applications.

For some talks, it "might be helpful for audience members to have some familiarity with Java or other programming languages," but in general the talks are designed for a broad audience,Steele said.

"People should expect this symposium to be informative, pragmatic, and intellectually stimulating,"Koo said.

More details about the event and schedule can be found at http://www.sun.com/edu/hot/java-days/mit.html.