Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Computer and Information Science

First Advisor

Jonathan M. Smith

Abstract

Automated memory management avoids the tedium and danger of manual techniques. However, as no programmer input is required, no widely available interface exists to permit principled control over sometimes unacceptable performance costs. This dissertation explores the idea that performance-oriented languages should give programmers greater control over where and when the garbage collector (GC) expends effort. We describe an interface and implementation to expose heap partitioning and collection decisions without compromising type safety. We show that our interface allows the programmer to encode a form of reference counting using Hayes' notion of key objects. Preliminary experimental data suggests that our proposed mechanism can avoid high overheads suffered by tracing collectors in some scenarios, especially with tight heaps. However, for other applications, the costs of applying subheaps---in human effort and runtime overheads---remain daunting.

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