Microsoft: Bosque is a new programming language built for AI in the cloud

Microsoft works on a programming language that could bring it a win with hardware accelerators in Azure AI workloads.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft is ready to show off the latest improvements it's made to a new experimental programming language for the cloud called Bosque. 

Bosque is being developed by a team at Microsoft Research led by principal engineer Mark Marron, who describes it as an "experiment in regularized design for a machine-assisted rapid and reliable software development lifecycle". 

The project borrows heavily from TypeScript and machine learning for software development in the cloud. 

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The Bosque programming language aims to cater to cloud developers with knowledge of Microsoft's TypeScript JavaScript superset and Node.js, the widely-used runtime for executing JavaScript code outside a browser. 

In a paper Marron published last year, he outlined how Bosque's regularized programming model could lead to a massive boost in programmer productivity, on par with gains made after structured programming – a term defined by Dutch computer programming pioneer Edsger Wybe Dijkstra – took off in the 1970s and spawned a new generation of compilers and integrated development environment (IDE) tools.      

Marron argued that the regularized programming model that Bosque employed "will lead to massively improved developer productivity, increased software quality, and enable a second golden age of developments in compilers and developer tooling".

He told ZDNet that Microsoft Research is still treating Bosque as a research project but that he is ready to start stabilizing the language. He'll detail his progress and roadmap for the language in a live webinar on Wednesday at 10am Pacific Time

"We have iterated pretty heavily from where we were a year ago and are ready to try and start stabilizing things a bit and pulling in more – research and open-source software – community interaction," said Marron. 

"So, in the webinar we are reviewing some of the principles we are working from, some preliminary experiences from prototypes we built last year, and a bit of a call for action on where we want to push forward – personally and with the community."

His talk will delve into intermediate representation (IR), where a program, such as a compiler, translates source code from one language into another. This helps, for example, developers write source code in one language and target multiple machines with different chip architectures and therefore make software more portable. 

Bosque, according to Marron, is about designing an IR that overcomes challenges to automated program reasoning.    

Marron says Bosque's purpose is to "connect a constrained core-language IR to a developer friendly and high-productivity programming experience" in a way that allows developers to take advantage of cloud programming stacks – which include languages like TypeScript – without losing the ability to analyze code. 

He'll also address the question: "Can we go beyond simply matching the productivity of mainstream languages in this space and improve on the state of the art beyond improved tooling with novel language features?"

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Marron also reckons that Bosque could be particularly adept at using hardware accelerators such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), with which AWS, Google, and Microsoft have been loading up their clouds to support machine-learning workloads

While Bosque currently lacks I/O and runtime utilities, the language has attracted interest from banking giant Morgan Stanley, which is exploring Bosque for Morphir.

Morphir is a "multi-language system built on a data format that captures an application's domain model and business logic in a technology agnostic manner". Morphir's main front-end is built with Elm, but Bosque is also a potential candidate.

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