News about Dyalog

Sep 15, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: APL Programming Language Celebrates 50 Years

Dyalog Ltd – the world's leading provider of the APL language – will host a celebration of the 50th anniversary of APL (A Programming Language) during Dyalog '16, its annual global user meeting in Glasgow. Some of the most innovative and exciting new applications developed using Dyalog APL will be showcased live at the event, including the award-winning Stormwind 3D simulator from Finland. Together with a 6 DOF (6 degrees of freedom) motion platform from Simotion in Dublin, Ireland, it forms the basis of a competition in which delegates experience driving a speedboat during adverse weather conditions in the Finnish archipelago. Also, the Big Data research solution, Galileo Cosmos, will demonstrate how researchers, such as Cancerlinq in the US, explore terabytes of data to highlight areas of interest that help clinicians choose the optimum treatment for each new cancer patient.

Managing Director of Dyalog, Gitte Christensen, says, "For three-and-a-half decades we have worked hard to integrate our language engine with current platforms, while continuously extending the language to take advantage of new ideas, both from the mainstream and other array languages. We have come a long way since the days when APL dominated timesharing on mainframes in the 70s and 80s, via a period where we spent an awful lot of time developing interpreters for any conceivable manufacturer's UNIX computer, to DOS and then Microsoft Windows. With mobile platforms in development, the Dyalog language engine is available now on a growing collection of platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Raspberry Pi, and includes an integrated development environment (IDE) as well as a growing collection of application tools.

"APL has been coined a tool of thought because the language lends itself to fast prototyping and because domain experts can easily express their thoughts in very terse programming. The fact that the past few years have seen new, exciting and award-winning applications being rapidly developed and put into operation is testament to the resilience of the language. As a functional and array-oriented language, Dyalog APL has the potential to put today's ubiquitous parallel hardware at the fingertips of domain experts, and Dyalog is investing heavily in making this a reality."

The Stormwind 3D simulator developed by Tomas Gustafsson and his tiny team in Finland won the Open Data Innovation Contest Apps4Finland in 2013. Due to the many small islands that make up Finland's Southern archipelago, boats are the main means of transport. Navigation is extremely complex and can be dangerous and challenging due to traffic density and inclement weather conditions. Stormwind is a real-time 3D simulation, with stunning visuals. The simulator manages a vast amount of geodata and visualises the real world by combining artwork with complex maths and physics. You could compare it to an entire manufacturing chain, from processing billions of measurements to running highly optimised code in a tight loop. It's about creating a working solution while simultaneously modelling it. See for a stunning video of a Swedish Combat boat simulation (approx. 11 minutes).

Galileo Cosmos is another exciting application. The solution embraces a completely new way of exploring big data by accessing terabytes of data – mainly for research purposes. Paul Grosvenor, Managing Director of Optima Systems in the UK, who has been one of the main drivers behind the development of the new software solution explains, "Galileo Cosmos is developed entirely in Dyalog APL and allows users to explore their data in a bold new way. Contrary to many other data exploration and business intelligence solutions, the main focus is not to answer known questions as you would normally expect when querying a database. Rather, it's about letting the data itself show you areas of interest that may prompt you to dig deeper into specific datasets. The uniquely flexible visual analytic interface immediately highlights data correlations, which makes it easy for researchers to decide which areas they ought to examine."

One of the first implementations of Galileo Cosmos was undertaken by Cancerlinq in the US. Cancerlinq have likened Galileo Cosmos to the 'Google of the cancer world'. Cancerlinq emphasized in particular the importance of the solution in helping clinicians determine the best possible treatment for each new cancer patient (see 'Transforming cancer care and research – an interview with Cancerlinq',, approx. 5.5 minutes). Optima Systems is currently in the process of discussing several other applications in a number of diverse industry sectors.

The APL language is highly effective at solving problems that involve performing complex calculations on lists or arrays of data. Its bit-manipulation capabilities make it a great tool for embedded, robotics and computer vision applications. Because of its ability to perform very complex calculations with great speed, the APL language is also heavily used in the finance sector for applications such as global asset management, the banking sector for trading on the stock and currency exchanges, and the insurance sector for risk analysis and adjustment of, for example, healthcare policies on an annual basis. It is also used for applications such as 'Take Care', the Swedish patient journal system currently implemented in the greater Stockholm area in Sweden. In short, thousands of users globally are today relying on applications written in Dyalog APL.

Gitte Christensen, Managing Director of Dyalog Ltd, and Paul Grosvenor, Managing Director of Optima Systems