Philip Wadler

Philip Lee Wadler (born April 8, 1956) is an American computer scientist known for his contributions to programming language design and type theory. In particular, he has contributed to the theory behind functional programming[8] and the use of monads in functional programming, the design of the purely functional language Haskell,[9] and the XQuery declarative query language. In 1984, he created the Orwell programming language. Wadler was involved in adding generic types to Java 5.0.[10] He is also author of the paper Theorems for free![11] that gave rise to much research on functional language optimization (see also Parametricity).

Phil Wadler
Philip Wadler before a lecture at the University of Edinburgh.
Philip Lee Wadler

(1956-04-08) April 8, 1956
Alma mater
Scientific career
FieldsProgramming languages[3]
ThesisListlessness is Better than Laziness: An Algorithm that Transforms Applicative Programs to Eliminate Intermediate Lists (1984)
Doctoral advisorNico Habermann[4]
Doctoral students
  • Ezra Cooper[4]
  • Kei Davis[4]
  • DeLesley Hutchins[5]
  • David R. Lester[6][4]
  • Philip Trinder[4]
  • Jeremy Yallop[7]


Wadler received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1977, and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1979.[12] He completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in 1984. His thesis was entitled Listlessness is Better than Laziness and was supervised by Nico Habermann.[13][4]

Research and career

Wadler's research interests[14][3][15] are in programming languages.[10][16]

Wadler was a research fellow at the Programming Research Group (part of the Oxford University Computing Laboratory) and St Cross College, Oxford during 1983–87.[12] He was progressively lecturer, reader, and professor at the University of Glasgow from 1987 to 1996. Wadler was a member of technical staff at Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies (1996–99) and then at Avaya Labs (1999–2003). Since 2003, he has been professor of theoretical computer science in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.[17]

Wadler was editor of the Journal of Functional Programming from 1990 to 2004. Wadler is currently working on a new functional language designed for writing web applications, called Links.[18] He has supervised numerous doctoral students to completion.[4][5][6][7]

Since 2003, Wadler has been a professor of theoretical computer science at the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh and is the chair of Theoretical Computer Science.[19] He is also a member of the university's Blockchain Technology Laboratory.[20][21] He has a h-index of 70 with 24,447 citations at Google Scholar.[22]

Awards and honours

Wadler received the Most Influential POPL Paper Award in 2003 for the 1993 POPL Symposium paper Imperative Functional Programming, jointly with Simon Peyton Jones.[12][23] In 2005, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[1] In 2007, he was inducted as an ACM Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).[2]


  1. Royal Society of Edinburgh profile
  2. ACM fellowship award page
  3. Philip Wadler publications indexed by Google Scholar
  4. Philip Wadler at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. Hutchins, DeLesley (2009). Pure subtype systems : a type theory for extensible software. (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/3937. OCLC 781103005.
  6. Lester, David. (1988). Combinator graph reduction : A congruence and its applications. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. ISBN 9780902928558. OCLC 937098100.
  7. Yallop, Jeremy (2010). Abstraction for web programming. (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/4683. OCLC 827264319.
  8. "Philip Wadler: Biography". O'Reilly Media. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  9. Hudak, P.; Johnsson, T.; Kieburtz, D.; Nikhil, R.; Partain, W.; Peterson, J.; Peyton Jones, S.; Wadler, P.; Boutel, B.; Fairbairn, J.; Fasel, J.; Guzmán, M. A. M.; Hammond, K.; Hughes, J. (1992). "Report on the programming language Haskell". ACM SIGPLAN Notices. 27 (5): 1. doi:10.1145/130697.130699.
  10. Wadler, Philip; Naftalin, Maurice (2007). Java generics and collections. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly. ISBN 978-0-596-52775-4.
  11. Wadler, P. (1989). "Theorems for free!". Proceedings of the fourth international conference on Functional programming languages and computer architecture - FPCA '89. p. 347. doi:10.1145/99370.99404. ISBN 978-0897913287.
  12. "Philip Wadler : CV" (PDF). Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  13. Wadler, Philip Lee (1984). Listlessness is Better than Laziness: An Algorithm that Transforms Applicative Programs to Eliminate Intermediate Lists. (PhD thesis). Carnegie Mellon University. OCLC 123317612. (subscription required)
  14. Philip Wadler at DBLP Bibliography Server
  15. Philip Wadler's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  16. Bird, Richard Miller; Wadler, Philip (1998). Introduction to functional programming using Haskell. New York: Prentice Hall Europe. ISBN 978-0-13-484346-9.
  17. "Philip Wadler". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. "Philip Wadler". the University of Edinburgh. n.d. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  20. "A list of people involved with the Blockchain Technology Lab". the University of Edinburgh. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  21. Wadler, Philip (n.d.). "Philip Wadler's home page". home pages. Retrieved 5 February 2019. External link in |website= (help)
  22. "Philip Wadler". Google Scholar. n.d. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  23. Peyton Jones, S. L.; Wadler, P. (1993). "Imperative functional programming". Proceedings of the 20th ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT symposium on Principles of programming languages - POPL '93. p. 71. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/158511.158524. ISBN 978-0897915601.

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