zondag 7 juni 2015

Studying

Odds are that if you read my blog, you also read either perl6 weekly or the perl foundation blog, in which case you already know that my grant application has been accepted. Yay! I should really have blogged somewhat earlier about that, but I've been very busy the last few weeks. But for clarity, that means I start working on the MoarVM JIT compiler ('expression compiler') on the 14th of June, and I hope to have reached a first milestone 5 weeks later, and a number of 'inchstones' before that.

In the meantime, I have just merged a branch that timotimo and I worked on to JIT-compile a larger number of frames containing exceptions. That caused some problems because, as it turns out, there is more than one way to throw and catch exceptions in MoarVM. To be specific, catching an exception sometimes means invoking a handler routine and sometimes means jumping to a specific point within a frame. To make matters more confusing, sometimes that means we descend in the stack (call from our current frame) and sometimes that means we ascend, and sometimes we just jump around in our current frame. And to top it of, perl6 (as one of the few languages I know of) allows you to resume an exception, like so:


sub foo() {
    try {
        say "TRY";
        die "DIE";
        say "RESUMED";
        CATCH {
            say "CATCH";
            default {
                $_.resume;
            }
        }
    }
}

loop (my int $i = 0; $i < 500; $i++) {
    foo();
}
say "FINISHED";

There is no question to me that this is super-cool, of course, but it can be a bit tricky to implement. For the JIT, it meant storing a pointer to a label *just* after the current 'throwish' operation in the exception body. (A 'throwish' op is a VM-level operation that throws exception and thus causes flow control to jump around relatively unpredictably. This is also why (some) C++ programmers dislike exceptions, by the way). This way when an exception is resumed the JIT trampolining mechanisms will ensure that control is resumed where we left off. Unless of course we have jumped to a handler in the same frame, in which case we jump there directly. And because timotimo has implemented the auxiliary ops that come with exception handling we can now JIT quite a few more frames.

Anyway, there are two reasons this post has it's name. The first is of course that I'm still busy finishing this study year for a final week, which is stressful in itself. And the second reason is that I've started reading up on articles concerning JIT compilation and code generation. A short list of these include:
Finally, I've submitted a talk proposal to YAPC::EU 2015 to discuss all the interesting bits of JIT compilation. I hope it will be accepted because (I think) there is no shortage of interesting stuff to to talk about.

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