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Technical Talk: Between the Lines; VM Assumptions

Programming language Virtual Machines (VMs) must make many assumptions about how programs typically operate in order to effectively optimise them. We less commonly consider the many assumptions that VM developers and researchers hold about how VMs operate and the context within which they operate. In this talk, I will present a number of partly, or wholly, unstated assumptions that we have about VMs and their development, ranging from benchmarking to security. Together they may help partly, although probably not wholly, how VMs got to where they are today — and also offer suggestions for how we can do things differently in the future.

Bio: Laurence Tratt is a Reader in Software Development at King’s College London, where he leads the Software Development Team. His work is strongly motivated by real-world issues concerning programming languages: how to make them faster, more expressive, and applicable to novel situations. His past work includes language design (e.g. the “Converge” language), virtual machine optimisation techniques (e.g. “storage strategies”), and language composition (e.g. “PyHyp”, the first composition of two real-world languages). More details at

Video of the talk:


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