The second day of the technical tracks started with a keynote by Markus Püschel. He is not the typical programming language researcher you meet at OOPSLA, but he does research in automatic optimization of programs. In his keynote, he showed a number of examples how to get the best performance for a given algorithm out of a particular processor architecture. Today’s compilers are still not up to the task, and will probably never be up to it. Given a naïve implementation, hand-optimized C code can have 10x speedup when dependencies are made explicit, and the compiler knows that no aliasing can happen. He was then discussing how that can be approached in an automated way, and was also thinking about what programming languages could do.
The second conference day was unfortunately full of “conflicts of interest”… It was pretty hard to choose between all the talks on the schedule.
As usual I will write about a few of my personal highlights of SPLASH and the co-located workshops. That is mostly from my spotty notes, and from memory, so I don’t guarantee 100% accuracy, especially with respect to what other people might have said.
The last half year was an interesting departure from my actual PhD research. First, I though the idea of barriers and phasers might be interesting to incorporate into a virtual machine as part of my thesis, but as it turned out, they are much to high-level and are better off implemented in a library. The gain for direct support in a VM is just not proportional to the effort and restrictions which come with that step.