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Using Low Level Linear Memory Management for Type-Preserving Mark-Sweep Garbage Collector
Edward Wei
Dartmouth TR2003-465

Abstract:

Efficient low-level systems such as garbage collectors need more control over memory than safe high-level languages usually provide. Due to this constraint, garbage collectors are typically written in unsafe languages such as C. A collector of this form usually resides as a trusted primitive runtime service outside the model of the programming language. The type safety of these languages depends on the assumption that the garbage collector will not violate any typing invariants. However, no realistic systems provide proof of this assumption.

A garbage collector written in a strongly typed language can guarantee not only the safety of the garbage collector and the program being garbage collected (mutator), but also the interaction between the collector and the mutator. Removing the garbage collector from the trusted computing base has many additional benefits: Untrusted code could be given more control over memory management without sacrificing security. Low-level code such as device drivers could interface in a safe way with a garbage collector. For these and the growing prevalence of garbage collectors in the typical programming system necessitate a safe solution.

Previous research by Wang et al introduced a safe copying collector based on regions, where the live graph structure of the heap is copied from an old region to a newer region. This paper seeks to improve the efficiency of type-preserving garbage collection with the introduction of a type-preserving mark and sweep garbage collector.

Note: Undergraduate Honors Thesis. Advisor: Chris Hawblitzel. Associated software release at http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~hawblitz/


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   Edward Wei, "Using Low Level Linear Memory Management for Type-Preserving Mark-Sweep Garbage Collector." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2003-465, June 2003.


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