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Garbage Collection and Efficiency in Dynamic Metacircular Runtimes

Pimás, Javier and Burroni, Javier and Arnaud, Jean Baptiste and Marr, Stefan (2017) Garbage Collection and Efficiency in Dynamic Metacircular Runtimes. In: Proceedings of the 13th ACM SIGPLAN International Symposium on on Dynamic Languages. SPLASH Systems, Programming, and Applications . ACM, New York, USA, pp. 39-50. ISBN 978-1-4503-5526-1. (doi:10.1145/3133841.3133845) (KAR id:63808)

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In dynamic object-oriented languages, low-level mechanisms such as just-in-time compilation, object allocation, garbage collection (GC) and method dispatch are often handled by virtual machines (VMs). VMs are typically implemented using static languages, allowing only few changes at run time. In such systems, the VM is not part of the language and interfaces to memory management or method dispatch are fixed, not allowing for arbitrary adaptation. Furthermore, the implementation can typically not be inspected or debugged with standard tools used to work on application code. This paper reports on our experience building Bee, a dynamic Smalltalk runtime, written in Smalltalk. Bee is a Dynamic Metacircular Runtime (DMR) and seamlessly integrates the VM into the application and thereby overcomes many restrictions of classic VMs, for instance by allowing arbitrary code modifications of the VM at run time. Furthermore, the approach enables developers to use their standard tools for application code also for the VM, allowing them to inspect, debug, understand, and modify a DMR seamlessly. We detail our experience of implementing GC, compilation, and optimizations in a DMR. We discuss examples where we found that DMRs can improve understanding of the system, provide tighter control of the software stack, and facilitate research. We also show that in high-level benchmarks the Bee DMR performance is close to that of a widely used Smalltalk VM.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.1145/3133841.3133845
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics (inc Computing science)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Computing
Depositing User: Stefan Marr
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2017 21:54 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 07:06 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Marr, Stefan:
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