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Waterfall: Primitives Generation on the Fly

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Abstract

Modern languages are typically supported by managed runtimes (Virtual Machines). Since VMs have to deal with many concepts such as memory management, abstract execution model and scheduling, they tend to be very complex. Additionally, VMs have to meet strong performance requirements. This demand of performance is one of the main reasons why many VMs are built statically. Thus, design decisions are frozen at compile time preventing changes at runtime. One clear example is the impossibility to dynamically adapt or change primitives of the VM once it has been compiled. In this work we present a toolchain that allows for altering and configuring components such as primitives and plug-ins at runtime. The main contribution is Waterfall, a dynamic and reflective translator from Slang, a restricted subset of Smalltalk, to native code. Waterfall generates primitives on demand and executes them on the fly. We validate our approach by implementing dynamic primitive modification and runtime customization of VM plug-ins.
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Dates and versions

hal-00871353 , version 1 (10-10-2013)

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Guido Chari, Diego Garbervetsky, Camillo Bruni, Marcus Denker, Stéphane Ducasse. Waterfall: Primitives Generation on the Fly. 2013. ⟨hal-00871353⟩
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