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The International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP) is a research conference. The attendees are mostly professors and graduate students, but some attendees work in industry, some attendees are undergraduates, and some attendees don’t fit into those easy categories.

The main program at ICFP (Monday through Wednesday) consists of short talks by the authors of newly published papers. Getting a paper presented at ICFP is prestigious. Papers presented at ICFP have been accepted to a journal, The Proceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages, which serves usual roles of a scientific journal: facilitating the exchange of ideas, archiving research results, and building researchers’ reputations and careers. Although the content of a research paper is often dense and written for experts who have some specific technical background, a presentation at ICFP can be more approachable. The speaker is advertising the work to a larger audience and will generally leave technical details to the paper.

ICFP is not about any particular programming language, and it takes a broad view of functional programming. The conference is the traditional home of the Haskell, ML, and Scheme/Lisp language families, and ICFP 2018 hosts workshops and symposia oriented to Erlang, Haskell, Scala, ML, OCaml, and Scheme. The main conference features research spanning those languages and more. Overall, the conference brings together researchers who work on the fundamentals of functional programming, which can be applied in any programming language. At ICFP, you’ll find researchers who developed many key ideas in functional programming languages—including, in many cases, the language developers themselves.

To get the most out of attending ICFP, it pays to understand the intended audience and structure of the various parts, since the full ICFP meeting (from Sunday to Saturday) is quite varied: