Scala is not among the most popular programming languages but soon this could change. With a EUR 2.3 million grant from the European Research Council (ERC), the Scala team will double their efforts to produce a parallel programming language for wider use.

Why Did Scala Get the EU Grant?

The short answer is because Scala's proposal was good and the ERC was convinced that this project deserves to be awarded the 5 year, EUR2.3 million grant in the Popular Parallel Programming challenge.

The attention that Popular Parallel Programming (PPP) gets from ERC stems from the Council's view that PPP is

the single most important problem facing the global IT industry. Without significant progress, there is a considerable risk that the underlying business model, in which hardware performance developments enable improved software which drives purchases of new hardware, will be broken.”

Scala was one of the applicants for the grant and it was the lucky one to be picked. Scala is a general purpose parallel programming language and it can be used for many purposes, including for writing applications for the cloud. Without delving into the technical details, the benefits of a parallel programming language in regards to enterprise software is that it simplifies programming a lot. If you are interested in the technical details around Scala, you can read the synopsis of their proposal.

What Will Be Benefit for the Community

If you are not familiar with Scala maybe you are just wondering what the benefit for the community will be. Among other things, cloud applications will also benefit from parallel programming, so Scala could be used to optimize cloud applications as well.

Scala is an open source language. It is a functional, object-oriented programming language and it has a lot in common with Java and .NET. The similarity with the two most popular languages is an asset because it will help its adoption by developers and organizations -- they won't need to start learning it from scratch.

Scala doesn't invent the wheel -- it just improves on it. As the developers of Scala put it,

The principal innovation is to use "language virtualization", combining polymorphic embeddings with domain-specific optimizations in a staged compilation process.”

Scala sounds like an ambitious project and it is good that the ERC provided the funding. The funding will be used mainly for the definition of domain-specific languages (DSLs) in libraries and it is not sufficient to cover the whole development cycle. Still it is help and as such it is appreciated.

It is good that EU gives grants to outstanding projects because this helps to develop technologies that otherwise would be next to impossible to create because they are not commercial in nature and they can't generate enough revenue for the company that develops them.