I'm happy to announce that I will be presenting a paper at TUG 2010, in San Francisco, for the 2^5th birthday of TeX. The abstract is given below:

Classes, Styles, Conflicts: the Biological Realm of LaTeX

Every LaTeX user faces the "compatibility nightmare" one day or another. With so much intercession capabilities at hand (LaTeX code being able to redefine itself at will), a time comes inevitably when the compilation of a document fails, due to a class/style conflict. In an ideal world, class/style conflicts should only be a concern for package maintainers, not end-users of LaTeX. Unfortunately, the world is real, not ideal, and end-user document compilation does break.

As both a class/style maintainer and a document author, I tried several times to come up with some general principles or a systematic approach to handling class/style cross-compatibility in a smooth and gentle manner, but I ultimately failed. Instead, one Monday morning, I woke up with this vision of the LaTeX biotope, an emergent phenomenon whose global behavior cannot be comprehended, because it is in fact the result of a myriad of "macro"-interactions between small entities, themselves in perpetual evolution.

In this presentation, I would like to draw bridges between LaTeX and biology, by viewing documents, classes and styles as living beings constantly mutating their geneTeX code in order to survive \renewcommand attacks...