1st Workshop on String Diagrams in Computation, Logic, and Physics


Aleks Kissinger and I are organising STRING 2017, a workshop for people who use, or are interested in string diagrams. The diagrams used all over this blog are an example, but string diagrams have been appearing all over the place recently: quantum computing, logic, asynchronous circuit analysis, and even linguistics. I’m trying to write a few articles about why this is happening, so if you’re interested, here’s a link to the first part.

I’m pretty excited about the workshop: first, the venue is amazing, it’s the Jericho Tavern (or more precisely, the upstairs concert venue, famous for being the place where Radiohead, while still at uni, had their (first?) gig. I’ve been to one workshop there before, in October 2014, and it was great: the atmosphere is informal, comfortable, and very conducive to discussions. At that workshop I talked about my initial ideas for graphical linear algebra, and had some really useful feedback. So I’m looking forward to going back.

Second, we have some really fantastic invited speakers: Paul-André Mèllies is coming from Paris to talk about his research on logic, which heavily features the use of string diagrams. His work on logical negation is particularly interesting. He’s the modern day Charles Sanders Peirce, who was doing logic with string diagrams (existential graphs) before Frege did it with classical syntax.

Next, Dan Ghica will give a tutorial on applications of string diagrams in circuit design and verification. His work is related but somewhat different from the graphical linear algebra kinds of diagrams, which Filippo, Fabio and I have been using for signal flow graphs. If you don’t know the details of Dan’s latest work, you might remember him from his articles about developing knot theory for eight year olds.

Finally, Bob Coecke, one of the founders of the string-diagrams-as-syntax-for-quantum-physics school of thought, will give a tutorial on the quantum applications. And possibly, perform in the evening as part of The Quantum Dagger Orchestra.

We are soliciting short abstracts, so please consider submitting something: the deadline is end of June, so there is plenty of time. Of course, you can also come along without presenting anything and simply soak up the string diagrammatic goodness. You’ll be able to register at the FSCD website when they eventually put up a registration link; I don’t remember the exact numbers but the whole thing should cost between £100 and £150, with catering included. You’ll have to pay for your own beer, of course (soft drinks are also available, I’m told). The official call for papers with all the details is below.


1st Annual Workshop on String Diagrams in
Computation, Logic, and Physics
(STRING 2017)


Satellite workshop of FSCD 2017,
co-located with HDRA 2017.

Jericho Tavern, Oxford, UK
September 8-9, 2017

String diagrams are a powerful tool for reasoning about processes and composition. Originally developed as a convenient notation for the arrows of monoidal and higher categories, they are increasingly used in the formal study of digital circuits, control theory, concurrency, quantum and classical computation, natural language processes, logic and more. String diagrams combine the advantages of formal syntax with intuitive aspects: the graphical nature of terms means that they often reflect the topology of systems under consideration. Moreover, diagrammatic reasoning transforms formal arguments into dynamic, moving images, thus building domain specific intuitions, valuable both for practitioners and pedagogy.

This workshop aims to bring together researchers from diverse backgrounds and specialities to collaborate and share their insights, tools, and techniques. It will furthermore provide an informal atmosphere in a unique venue: the upstairs of the Jericho Tavern, a music venue, where famously Radiohead played their first concert. All the usual conference facilities will be provided, and the distinctive location will provide plenty of opportunities to discuss and share ideas. STRING 2017 is a satellite event of FSCD 2017 (http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/conferences/fscd2017/) and will be co-located with the 3rd Higher-Dimensional Rewriting and Applications (http://hdra.gforge.inria.fr).

Invited Speakers

  • Paul-André Mèllies (CNRS and Paris Diderot) – joint HDRA and STRING invited speaker
  • Dan Ghica (Birmingham) – applications of string diagrams in circuit design and verification
  • Bob Coecke (Oxford) – applications of string diagrams in quantum foundations and quantum computation


We warmly welcome all types of contributions, ranging from work-in-progress to original work and/or overviews of mature work published elsewhere, on topics ranging from theory of string diagrams, to applications and tool demos.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit a title and 2 page abstract via the Easychair page at https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=string2017

We will try to build a programme that is as inclusive and wide-ranging as possible within the fairly limited time available. Hence, speakers will be invited either to give a full-length talk or give a short talk in a “lightning session” style format.

The accepted abstracts will be made available electronically before the workshop.

Important Dates

Abstract deadline: 30 June 2017
Speaker notification: 14 July 2017
Workshop: 8-9 September 2017

Program Committee

  • Filippo Bonchi (ENS Lyon)
  • Ross Duncan (Strathclyde)
  • Fabio Gadducci (Pisa)
  • Aleks Kissinger (Radboud)
  • Dan Marsden (Oxford)
  • Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh (Queen Mary)
  • Pawel Sobocinski (Southampton)
  • David Spivak (MIT)
  • Noam Zeilberger (Birmingham)


  • Aleks Kissinger – Radboud Universiteit
  • Pawel Sobocinski – University of Southampton


  • Joshua Holland – University of Southampton

3 thoughts on “1st Workshop on String Diagrams in Computation, Logic, and Physics

  1. Any chance things might be recorded, or things about it posted publically? I don’t really know how these workshop things work, I just know that I really want to know what you guys have to say about the whole topic. 😦


    • Basically there are a bunch of talks, and chances to discuss during coffee breaks etc. I’ll post the programme once we have it. As far as recording it… it’s a great idea, but we probably won’t have the money for the equipment 🙂


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