License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC BY 3.0)
When quoting this document, please refer to the following
DOI: 10.4230/LIPIcs.SNAPL.2015.321
URN: urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-50341
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Wang, Kunshan ; Lin, Yi ; Blackburn, Stephen M. ; Norrish, Michael ; Hosking, Antony L.

Draining the Swamp: Micro Virtual Machines as Solid Foundation for Language Development

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Many of today's programming languages are broken. Poor performance, lack of features and hard-to-reason-about semantics can cost dearly in software maintenance and inefficient execution. The problem is only getting worse with programming languages proliferating and hardware becoming more complicated. An important reason for this brokenness is that much of language design is implementation-driven. The difficulties in implementation and insufficient understanding of concepts bake bad designs into the language itself. Concurrency, architectural details and garbage collection are three fundamental concerns that contribute much to the complexities of implementing managed languages.

We propose the micro virtual machine, a thin abstraction designed specifically to relieve implementers of managed languages of the most fundamental implementation challenges that currently impede good design. The micro virtual machine targets abstractions over memory (garbage collection), architecture (compiler backend), and concurrency. We motivate the micro virtual machine and give an account of the design and initial experience of a concrete instance, which we call Mu, built over a two year period. Our goal is to remove an important barrier to performant and semantically sound managed language design and implementation.

BibTeX - Entry

  author =	{Kunshan Wang and Yi Lin and Stephen M. Blackburn and Michael Norrish and Antony L. Hosking},
  title =	{{Draining the Swamp: Micro Virtual Machines as Solid Foundation for Language Development}},
  booktitle =	{1st Summit on Advances in Programming Languages (SNAPL 2015)},
  pages =	{321--336},
  series =	{Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)},
  ISBN =	{978-3-939897-80-4},
  ISSN =	{1868-8969},
  year =	{2015},
  volume =	{32},
  editor =	{Thomas Ball and Rastislav Bodik and Shriram Krishnamurthi and Benjamin S. Lerner and Greg Morrisett},
  publisher =	{Schloss Dagstuhl--Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik},
  address =	{Dagstuhl, Germany},
  URL =		{},
  URN =		{urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-50341},
  doi =		{10.4230/LIPIcs.SNAPL.2015.321},
  annote =	{Keywords: virtual machines, concurrency, just-in-time compiling, garbage collection}

Keywords: virtual machines, concurrency, just-in-time compiling, garbage collection
Collection: 1st Summit on Advances in Programming Languages (SNAPL 2015)
Issue Date: 2015
Date of publication: 30.04.2015

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