Here are a few personal highlights from the FPGA 2020 conference, which took place this week in Seaside, California. (Main photo credit: George Constantinides.) Jakub Szefer's invited talk on "Thermal and Voltage Side Channels and Attacks in Cloud FPGAs" described a rather nifty side-channel through which secrets could be leaked in the context of cloud-based… Continue reading Highlights from FPGA 2020

## New names for odd and even functions

The concept of "odd" and "even" functions is quite important in areas such as Fourier analysis. An odd function is one that has 2-fold rotational symmetry around the origin; examples include $latex y=x$, $latex y=x^3$, and $latex y=\sin x$. $latex y=x^3$ is an example of an "odd" function An even function is one that has… Continue reading New names for odd and even functions

## Fuzzing FPGA synthesis tools

When you want to do some computation on an FPGA, it is traditional to enter your design in a language like Verilog, and then to use automatic synthesis tools to turn your Verilog design into a "configuration bitstream" that can be fed to your FPGA to make it perform the computation you want. These synthesis… Continue reading Fuzzing FPGA synthesis tools

## A plot twist! Drawing better graphs in PL papers

In this post, I'd like to share some thoughts I've accumulated over the past few years about how to draw better graphs. To get straight to the point, I have two concrete recommendations: normalised data should usually be plotted on a logarithmic scale, andscatter plots can be easier to understand than bar charts. I'll now… Continue reading A plot twist! Drawing better graphs in PL papers

## In praise of scatter plots

A lot of papers include a graph that benchmarks the performance of a new technique against a technique from previous work. Such a graph might look like this: The graph is rather straightforward to read: when the green bar is higher, the old technique is faster, and when the red bar is higher, the new… Continue reading In praise of scatter plots

## Loop invariants – where should we put them?

Many verification-oriented programming languages have built-in support for attaching loop invariants to loops. A loop invariant is a condition that holds in four different places: immediately before the loop, at the start of each iteration (before evaluating the test condition), at the end of each iteration, and immediately after the loop. Usually, the invariants are… Continue reading Loop invariants – where should we put them?

## Modulo scheduling with rational initiation intervals

It was great to have Patrick Sittel visit our group earlier this year. This blog post is about the work he and I did during his visit, which has been accepted as a paper (co-authored with Martin Kumm and Peter Zipf) at ASP-DAC 2020. Suppose we wish to fit a row of tiles to a… Continue reading Modulo scheduling with rational initiation intervals

## How to draw block diagrams

A huge number of academic papers, particularly in the fields of computer systems/architecture, use some sort of block diagram to give readers an overview of the solution being presented. For instance, about two thirds of the papers presented this year at ASPLOS contained at least one of these diagrams, usually towards the start of the paper.… Continue reading How to draw block diagrams

## A wordless proof

## A rant about fire doors

UK housebuilding specifications require all doors that lead from a habitable room to the outside to meet certain "fire door" criteria. These include having a self-closing mechanism, since fire doors are only effective when they are closed. Housebuilders typically implement this specification using a simple and discreet spring that pulls the door closed. This is… Continue reading A rant about fire doors