Sunday, October 15, 2017

New revision of the semantics paper (POPL rejection, ESOP submission)

My submission about declarative semantics to POPL was rejected. It's been a few weeks now, so I'm not so angry about it anymore. I've revised the paper and will be submitting it to ESOP this week.

The main reason for rejection according to the reviewers was a lack of technical novelty, but I think the real reasons were that 1) the paper came across as too grandiose and as a result, it accidentally annoyed the reviewer who is an expert in denotational semantics, and 2) the paper did not do a good job of comparing to the related set-theoretic models of Plotkin and Engeler.

Regarding 1), in the paper I use the term "declarative semantics" to try and distance this new semantics from the standard lattice-based denotational semantics. However, the reviewer took it to claim that the new semantics is not a denotational semantics, which is clearly false. In the new version of the paper I've removed the term "declarative semantics" and instead refer to the new semantics as a denotational semantics of the "elementary" variety. Also, I've toned down the sales pitch to better acknowledge that this new semantics is not the first elementary denotational semantics.

Regarding 2), I've revised the paper to include a new section at the beginning that gives background on the elementary semantics of Plotkin, Engeler, and Coppo et al. This should help put the contributions of the paper in context.

Other than that, I've added a section with a counter example to full abstraction. A big thanks to the POPL reviewers for the counter example! (Also thanks to Max New, who sent me the counter example a couple months ago.)

Unfortunately, the ESOP page limit is a bit shorter, so I removed the relational version of the semantics and also the part about mutable references.

A draft of the revision is available on arXiv. Feedback is most welcome, especially from experts in denotational semantics! I really hope that this version is no longer annoying, but if it is, please tell me!

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