First Symposium on Compositional Structures (SYCO 1)

School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK
20-21 September, 2018

The Symposium on Compositional Structures is a new interdisciplinary series of meetings aiming to support the growing community of researchers interested in the phenomenon of compositionality, from both applied and abstract perspectives, and in particular where category theory serves as a unifying common language. We welcome submissions from researchers across computer science, mathematics, physics, philosophy, and beyond, with the aim of fostering friendly discussion, disseminating new ideas, and spreading knowledge between fields. Submission is encouraged for both mature research and work in progress, and by both established academics and junior researchers, including students.

Submission is easy, with no format requirements or page restrictions. The meeting does not have proceedings, so work can be submitted even if it has been submitted or published elsewhere.

While no list of topics could be exhaustive, SYCO welcomes submissions with a compositional focus related to any of the following areas, in particular from the perspective of category theory:

This new series aims to bring together the communities behind many previous successful events which have taken place over the last decade, including Categories, Logic and Physics, Categories, Logic and Physics (Scotland), Higher-Dimensional Rewriting and Applications, String Diagrams in Computational, Logic and Physics, Applied Category Theory, Simons Workshop on Compositionality, the Yorkshire and Midlands Category Theory Seminar, and the Peripatetic Seminar in Sheaves and Logic.

The steering committee hopes that SYCO will become a regular fixture in the academic calendar, running regularly throughout the year, and becoming over time a recognized venue for presentation and discussion of results in an informal and friendly atmosphere. To help create this community, and to avoid the need to make difficult choices between strong submissions, in the event that more good-quality submissions are received than can be accommodated in the timetable, the programme committee may choose to defer some submissions to a future meeting, rather than reject them. This would be done based largely on submission order, giving an incentive for early submission, but would also take into account other requirements, such as ensuring a broad scientific programme. Deferred submissions can be re-submitted to any future SYCO meeting, where they will be prioritised for inclusion in the programme, and where they will not need to be re-reviewed. This will allow us to ensure that speakers have enough time to present their ideas, without creating competition between submissions. Meetings would be held sufficiently frequently to avoid a backlog of deferred papers.

Click here for information about the next SYCO meeting.

Invited speakers

David Corfield Jules Hedges
Department of Philosophy, University of Kent Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford
The ubiquity of modal type theory Compositional game theory

Important dates


The registration, coffee breaks, lunch, and drinks reception will take place in the atrium of the School of Computer Science. The adjoining Sloman Lounge can be used to talk or work.

The talks will take place in the Murray Learning Centre, room LG14.

The School of Computer Science and the Murray Learning Centre are opposite each other, and it only takes about 20 seconds to walk from one building to the other.

TimeThursday 20 SeptemberFriday 21 September
09:30Jules Hedges, "Compositional game theory" (invited talk) (slides)
10:30REGISTRATIONFilippo Bonchi, Jens Seeber and Pawel Sobocinski, "Graphical conjunctive queries" (slides)
11:30David Corfield, "The ubiquity of modal type theory" (invited talk) (slides)Lukas Heidemann, "Visualization and verification of geometrical proofs" (slides)
12:00Exequiel Rivas, "Relating idioms, arrows and monads from monoidal adjunctions" (slides)
12:30Kohei Kishida, "An allegorical semantics of modal logic" (slides)Apiwat Chantawibul and Pawel Sobocinski, "Monoidal multiplexing"
14:00Joe Moeller, "Noncommutative network models"Michael Stay and Lucius Gregory Meredith, "How to derive a type system from a term calculus, a collection, and a distributive law" (slides)
14:30Paolo Perrone and Tobias Fritz, "Monads, partial evaluations, and rewriting" (slides)Brendan Fong, David Spivak and Remy Tuyeras, "Backprop as functor: a compositional perspective on supervised learning" (slides)
15:00Aaron Sloman, "Biologically evolved forms of compositionality" (slides) (paper)Robin Cockett, Cole Comfort and Priyaa Srinivasan, "Dagger mix categories" (slides)
16:00Benjamin Musto, David Reutter and Dominic Verdon, "A compositional approach to quantum functions" (slides)Andre Kornell, "Quantum sets" (slides)
16:30Robin Kaarsgaard and Robert Glück, "Reversibility as a compositional phenomenon"Simon Willerton, "The Legendre-Fenchel transform from a category theoretic perspective" (slides)
17:00Ross Duncan and Seyon Sivarajah, Cambridge Quantum Computing industry presentation (not peer reviewed)Tarmo Uustalu, "Container combinatorics: monads and more" (slides)


Here are some photographs of the event.

David Corfield

Ross Duncan

Brendan Fong

Jules Hedges

Lukas Heidemann

Robin Kaarsgaard

Andre Kornell

Joseph Moeller

Paolo Perrone

David Reutter

Exequiel Rivas

Jens Seeber

Seyon Sivarajah

Pawel Sobocinski

Priyaa Srinivasan

Mike Stay

Tarmo Uustalu

Simon Willerton


We are pleased to acknowledge financial support from Cambridge Quantum Computing and the Royal Society.


There is no registration fee, but please do register so that you can be given a name badge, and so that we can prepare the correct quantity of refreshments. To register, send an email to with subject line "SYCO 1 registration", indicating in the body of the email the name and affiliation to put on your name badge, as well as any dietary preferences, and whether you are happy for your name to appear on the webpage in the list of attendees, which will appear shortly. The registration deadline is Thursday 13 September 2018, one week before the meeting.

Local information

WARNING: hotel accommodation in Birmingham is already running low for the conference dates. We recommend that you organize your accommodation as soon as possible.

Local organizer. The local organizers are Brendan Fong and Jamie Vicary, who can be contacted at the email address <>. Please get in touch directly if you have any questions.

Venue. The meeting will be held at the University of Birmingham, in the Learning Centre and the School of Computer Science, which are situated opposite each other on University Road West on the main Edgbaston campus of the university, just 100 metres from the University train station. It takes only a few seconds to walk between the buildings. The walking route to the Learning Centre is shown on this map:

Accommodation. Book your accommodation as soon as possible, as hotel rooms are already selling out in Birmingham on the dates of the Symposium. If you would like hotel accommodation, we advise you to choose a hotel near Birmingham New Street station, and travel to the conference venue using the quick and regular train service; a standard choice is the Holiday Inn Express. There are also many AirBnB places available in Birmingham; while there isn't much available for the conference dates near the University, there are plenty of places near Five Ways station and Birmingham New Street station, which have direct trains to the conference venue.

Trains. With the University train station just 100 metres from the conference venue, the train is an easy way to get to the symposium. Travel time is 11 minutes from Birmingham New Street, 27 minutes from Birmingham airport, 1 hour 7 minutes from Leicester, 1 hour 14 minutes from Sheffield, 1 hour 17 minutes from Oxford, 1 hour 34 minutes minutes from London, 2 hours 14 minutes from Leeds, 4 hours 40 minutes from Glasgow, and 4 hours 52 minutes from Paris. (Thanks to the time difference, this means you can take the 07:08 train from Gare du Nord and arrive in time for registration at 11:00 on Thursday.)

Planes. If travelling from far afield, Birmingham airport has flights from all over Europe, and is 27 minutes by train from the conference venue. Birmingham is also conveniently serviced by several other airports: Manchester Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Bristol Airport, and London Gatwick Airport are about 2 hours by public transport, Heathrow Airport is 2 hours 30 minutes, and Stansted Airport has a direct service to Birmingham New Street that takes 3 hours.

Automobiles. The university has some limited pay-and-display parking (see section "Visitor Parking"), but it is often very busy and it can be hard to find a space. A more reliable option is to park on one of the roads just south of the University which do not have parking restrictions, such as Hubert Road, Tiverton Road or Dawlish Road; these roads are a 10-minute walk to the conference venue.

Taxis. You can book a traditional taxi by phone on 01214278888 or 01217441111. Also, Uber operates in the city.

Internet access. The best way to access the internet at the University of Birmingham is by using the Eduroam service; you can download a configuration tool for your device here. If you do not have access to Eduroam, you can get a guest WiFi password at the registration desk.


Some funding is available to cover travel and subsistence costs, with a priority for PhD students and junior researchers. To apply for this funding, please contact the local organizer Jamie Vicary at with subject line "SYCO 1 funding request" by the deadline given above, with a short statement of your current status, travel costs and funding required.


Submission is by EasyChair. To submit to SYCO 1, click on the this link:

Submissions should present research results in sufficient detail to allow them to be properly considered by members of the programme committee, who will assess papers with regards to significance, clarity, correctness, and scope. We encourage the submission of work in progress, as well as mature results. There are no proceedings, so work can be submitted even if it has been previously published, or has been submitted for consideration elsewhere. There is no specific formatting requirement, and no page limit, although for long submissions authors should be aware that reviewers may not be able to read the entire document in detail.

The call for papers is available here.


68 total participants.

Todd Ambridge, University of Birmingham
Samuel Balco, University of Leicester
Chris Barrett, University of Bath
Guillaume Boisseau, University of Oxford
Cosimo Perini Brogi, University of Birmingham
Wei Chen, University of Birmingham
Robin Cockett, University of Calgary
Joseph Collins, University of Strathclyde
Cole Comfort, University of Calgary
David Corfield, University of Kent
Alex Corner, Sheffield Hallam University
Adriana Correira, Utrecht University
David Dalrymple, Protocol Labs
Giovanni De Felice, University of Oxford
Antonin Delpeuch, University of Oxford
Ross Duncan, University of Strathclyde and Cambridge Quantum Computing
Yuning Feng, University of Birmingham
Paulo Ferreira, University of Birmingham
Brendan Fong, MIT
Dan Ghica, University of Birmingham
Jeremy Gibbons, University of Oxford
Thomas Goodman, University of Birmingham
Jules Hedges, University of Oxford
Lukas Heidemann, University of Bonn
Dietmar Heinke, University of Birmingham
Achim Jung, University of Birmingham
Robin Kaarsgaard, University of Copenhagen
Oliver Kamperis, University of Birmingham
Jonas Karlsson, University of Minnesota
Martti Karvonen, University of Edinburgh
Kohei Kishida, Dalhousie University
Andre Kornell, University of California, Davis
Paul Blain Levy, University of Birmingham
Daniel Marsden, University of Oxford
Joe Moeller, University of California, Riverside
René Mogensen, Birmingham City University
Koko Muroya, University of Birmingham
John Murphy, University of Birmingham
Chad Nester, University of Edinburgh
John Newbury, University of Birmingham
Simona Paoli, University of Leicester
Paolo Perrone, Max Planck Institute
Stuart Presnell, University of Bristol
Uday Reddy, University of Birmingham
David Reutter, University of Oxford
Exequiel Rivas, pi.r2 INRIA - IRIF
Alessio Santamaria, University of Bath
Philip Saville, University of Cambridge
Jens Seeber, IMT Lucca
Amir Hossein Sharafi, Shahid Beheshti University
Will Sharp, University of Birmingham
Seyon Sivarajah, Cambridge Quantum Computing
Aaron Sloman, University of Birmingham
Andrew Smith, University of Leicester
Pawel Sobocinski, University of Southampton
Mohan Sridharan, University of Birmingham
Priyaa Varshinee Srinivasan, University of Calgary
Mike Stay, Pyrofex Corporation
Sajedeh Talebtash, Shahid Beheshti University
Paul Taylor, University of Birmingham
Tarmo Uustalu, Reykjavik University
Dominic Verdon, University of Bristol
Jamie Vicary, University of Birmingham and University of Oxford
William Whistler, Durham University
Simon Willerton, University of Sheffield
Fabio Zanasi, University College London
Stefan Zetzsche, PhD Student
Lucy Liuxuan Zhang, University of Toronto

Programme committee

The symposium managed by the following people, who will serve as the programme committee for SYCO 1.