The third day started with Brendan Eich’s keynote on JavaScript’s world domination plan. It was a very technical keynote, not very typical I suppose. And he was rushing through his slides with an enormous speed. Good that I have some JavaScript background. Aside all the small things he mentioned, interesting for me is that he seemed to be very interested to get Intel’s RiverTrail approach to data-parallelism into ECMAScript in one or another form. That is kind of contradicting the position I heard so far, that ECMAScript would be done with having WebWorkers as a model for concurrency and parallel programming.

Language Implementation

The first session had two interesting VM talks for me. The first being JIT Compilation Policy for Modern Machines. With the assumption that you cannot get your multicore/manycore machines busy with application threads, they experimented how additional compilation threads can be used to optimize code better. I do not remember the details completely, but I think, after 7 compilation threads they reached a mark where it was not worthwhile anymore to add more threads.

The second talk was on Reducing Trace Selection Footprint for Large-scale Java Applications with no Performance Loss. The goal here is to reduce the number of trace in a tracing JIT that need to be kept around and optimized. Might be something interesting for PyPy and LuaJIT2 to consider.

Parallel and Concurrent Programming

The last session I attended was again on parallel and concurrent programing. The first paper A Simple Abstraction for Complex Concurrent Indexes was a pretty formal one.

The second paper is a pessimistic approach to implement atomic statements meant for systems programming: Composable, Nestable, Pessimistic Atomic Statements. It is not optimistic like STM, and does not use a global locking order, which would need to be determined statically. Instead they annotate the fields with so-called shelters. Shelters build a hierarchy, which describes the necessary parts to synchronize with.

The third paper was also a very interesting one for me: Delegated Isolation. It is an approach again similar to STM in a sense, but it avoids unbounded number of transaction retries. For that, the object graph is essentially partitioned in growing subgraphs that can be processed in parallel. Only when a conflict, a race-condition occurred, subgraphs are merged logically, and the computation is serialized. A neat idea and an interesting use of the object-ownership idea.

The last talk was on: AC: Composable Asynchronous IO for Native Languages. It was a presentation of work done in the context of the Barrelfish manycore OS. The goal was to have an easy to use programming model, that comes close to sequential programming, but has similar performance properties as typical asynchronous APIs in operating systems. The result is a model based on async/finish, that seems to be relatively nice. As I understand it, it is basically syntactic sugar and some library support to wrap typical asynchronous APIs. But it is a model that is purely focused on such request/response asynchrony, and does not handle concurrency/parallism.

And that was basically it. SPLASH is a nice conference when it comes to the content. Not so interesting when it comes to the social “events”, it wasn’t much of an event anyway. Not even the food was notable…