Sep 11, 2023: An Introduction to Interpreters and JIT Compilation
Last week, I gave two lectures at the Programming Language Implementation Summer School (PLISS). PLISS was very well organized and the students and other presenters made for a very enjoyable week of new ideas, learning, and discussing.
One of the hard problems in language implementation research is benchmarking. Some people argue, we should benchmark only applications that actually matter to people. Though, this has various issues. Often, such applications are embedded in larger systems, and it’s hard to isolate the relevant parts. In many cases, these applications can also not be made available to other researchers. And, of course, things change over time, which means maintaining projects like DaCapo, Renaissance, or Jet Stream is a huge effort.
Dec 30, 2020: The Shape of 6M Lines of Ruby
Following up on my last blog post, I am going to look at how Ruby is used to get a bit of an impression of whether there are major differences between Ruby and Smalltalk in their usage.
Dec 14, 2020: The Shape of 1.7M Lines of Code
Recently, I was wondering how large code bases look like when it comes to the basic properties compiler might care about. And here I am not thinking about dynamic properties, but simply static properties such as length of methods, number of methods per class, number of fields, and so on.
Last year, I was asked to give a talk for the Meta’19 workshop. It’s a workshop on metaprogramming and reflection. The submission deadline for this year’s edition, is less than a month away: Check it out!
Do my performance measurements allow me to conclude anything at all?
Last September, I had a lot of fun putting together a lecture on language implementation techniques. It is something I wanted to do for a while, but I had not had a good excuse before to actually do it.
Jan 12, 2016: Type Hierarchies and Guards in Truffle Languages
Continuing a little bit with writing notes on Truffle and Graal, this one is based on my observations in SOMns and changes to its message dispatch mechanism. Specifically, I refactored the main message dispatch chain in SOMns. As in Self and Newspeak, all interactions with objects are message sends. Thus, field access and method invocation is essentially the same. This means that message sending is a key to good performance.
Back in 2013 when looking for a way to show that my ideas on how to support concurrency in VMs are practical, I started to look into meta-compilation techniques. Truffle and RPython are the two most promising systems to build fast language implementations without having to implement a compiler on my own. While these two approaches have many similarities, from a conceptual perspective, they take two different approaches that can be seen as the opposite ends of a spectrum. So, I thought, it might be worthwhile to investigate them a little closer.
The first results of my experiments with self-optimizing interpreters was finally published in IEEE Software. It is a brief and very high-level comparison of the Truffle approach with a classic bytecode-based interpreter on top of RPython. If you aren’t familiar with either of these approaches, the article is hopefully a good starting point. The experiments described in it use SOM, a simple Smalltalk.