An Interview with John Lakos

published at 11.06.2015 21:10 by Jens Weller

In 2013 and 2014 I interviewed Michael Wong at C++Now. This was a follow up on his keynote at Meeting C++ in 2012, and it was interesting to learn from Michael about the C++ Committee, Transactional Memory, Parallelism and his views on C++. So, with this years C++Now coming up, I thought about recording again an interview there, as I now also have far better camera and video editing options...

Many names are still on my list, John was for me one of my candidates, as he really likes to share his knowledge, if in talks, books or in a personal conversation with him. Last year I did some research on the topic of value semantics, which once understood, is quite an easy concept. John gave talk about it at C++Now last year, and I also watched several related talks from CppCon, which let to the final understanding what value semantics actually means. This is why my first question to John was about value semantics, to see if our concepts of value semantics match, or not. (They do).

Then, earlier this year, there was a very interesting interview with Alexander Stepanov and Daniel Rose, about their recent book From Mathematics to Generic Programming. The interview was done by no other then John Lakos, which makes this interview very special I think. John himself knows a lot about the many topics of the interview. Be sure to take your time to read this interview, it took me several days to read through it, as it is in some parts very dense and interesting. So, I had to ask him about this interview of course too!

But actually, it was at the Library Working Group meeting in Cologne this spring, which me and John attended. Speaking with him about the interview and value semantics, I realized, that for this year, he would be the perfect match for doing an interview. Yet, our time at C++Now for this was limited, so much more to cover...

John Lakos has a very interesting bio, as his speaker description from C++Now hints:

John Lakos, author of “Large Scale C++ Software Design.”, serves at Bloomberg LP in New York City as a senior architect and mentor for C++ Software Development world-wide. He is also an active voting member of the C++ Standards Committee, Library Working Group. Previously, Dr. Lakos directed the design and development of infrastructure libraries for proprietary analytic financial applications at Bear Stearns. For 12 years prior, Dr. Lakos developed large frameworks and advanced ICCAD applications at Mentor Graphics, for which he holds multiple software patents. His academic credentials include a Ph.D. in Computer Science (’97) and an Sc.D. in Electrical Engineering (’89) from Columbia University. Dr. Lakos received his undergraduate degrees from MIT in Mathematics (’82) and Computer Science (’81).

The Interview

I decided to record the interview on the outside, as I found a very good place, which is close to the Meadows Hotel. While the background is spectacular, recording outside also has its down sides: an annoying plane, wind and water noises, a short disturbance by a gardener walking through. But see for yourself:

I want to thank John Lakos for making this interview possible! I learned a lot about John, Software Engineering, C++ and value semantics through and while preparing this interview. I want to recommend his talks, and especially the interview he did with Alexander Stepanov and Daniel Rose.