Selective Specialization for Object-Oriented Languages

Jeffrey Dean, Craig Chambers, and David Grove
Dynamic dispatching is a major source of run-time overhead in object-oriented languages, due both to the direct cost of method lookup and to the indirect effect of preventing other optimizations. To reduce this overhead, optimizing compilers for object-oriented languages analyze the classes of objects stored in program variables, with the goal of bounding the possible classes of message receivers enough so that the compiler can uniquely determine the target of a message send at compile time and replace the message send with a direct procedure call. Specialization is one important technique for improving the precision of this static class information: by compiling multiple versions of a method, each applicable to a subset of the possible argument classes of the method, more precise static information about the classes of the method's arguments is obtained. Previous specialization strategies have not been selective about where this technique is applied, and therefore tended to significantly increase compile time and code space usage, particularly for large applications. In this paper, we present a more general framework for specialization in object-oriented languages and describe a goal- directed specialization algorithm that makes selective decisions to apply specialization to those cases where it provides the highest benefit. Our results show that our algorithm improves the performance of a group of sizeable programs by 65% to 275% while increasing compiled code space requirements by only 4% to 10%. Moreover, when compared to the previous state-of-the-art specialization scheme, our algorithm improves performance by 11% to 67% while simultaneously reducing code space requirements by 65% to 73%.
PLDI'95 Conference Proceedings, La Jolla, CA June, 1995.

To get the PostScript file, click here.

An earlier version of this paper appeared in PEPM '94

Cecil/Vortex Project