Diagrams for Composing Compilers

T-diagrams (or tombstone diagrams) are widely used by teachers to explain how compilers and interpreters can be composed together to build and execute software. In this blog post, Paul Brunet and I revisit these diagrams, and show how they can be redesigned for better readability. We demonstrate how they can be applied to explain compiler… Continue reading Diagrams for Composing Compilers

Uncovering multicore interference

Dan's Blog

If I visit an exotic destination, I would surely do some sightseeing. I would cycle to that destination and I would use Google Maps for navigation. At most crossroads, I need to know in which direction I should turn. Other apps running on my phone might delay the indications provided by Google Maps and therefore I can mistakenly make a wrong turn and possibly be eaten by some large animal.

The reason why this is happening is that on all modern multicore processors, applications on different cores of the system are competing for the shared resources. This is not a problem in most applications but it can be in time-sensitive ones. If we design any such time-sensitive programs, we need to know what to expect in terms of interference so that we can accommodate for the delays. The most common approach for evaluating delays in multicore systems is to run…

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Highlights from FPGA 2020

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

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

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?

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