Quigley, Claire Louise
A programming logic for Java bytecode programs.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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One significant disadvantage of interpreted bytecode languages, such as Java, is their low execution speed in comparison to compiled languages like C. The mobile nature of bytecode adds to the problem, as many checks are necessary to ensure that downloaded code from untrusted sources is rendered as safe as possible. But there do exist ways of speeding up such systems.
One approach is to carry out static type checking at load time, as in the case of the Java Bytecode Verifier. This reduces the number of runtime checks that must be done and also allows certain instructions to be replaced by faster versions. Another approach is the use of a Just In Time (JIT) Compiler, which takes the bytecode and produces corresponding native code at runtime. Some JIT compilers also carry out some code optimization.
There are, however, limits to the amount of optimization that can safely be done by the Verifier and JITs; some operations simply cannot be carried out safely without a certain amount of runtime checking. But what if it were possible to prove that the conditions the runtime checks guard against would never arise in a particular piece of code? In this case it might well be possible to dispense with these checks altogether, allowing optimizations not feasible at present. In addition to this, because of time constraints, current JIT compilers tend to produce acceptable code as quickly as possible, rather than producing the best code possible. By removing the burden of analysis from them it may be possible to change this.
We demonstrate that it is possible to define a programming logic for bytecode programs that allows the proof of bytecode programs containing loops. The instructions available to use in the programs are currently limited, but the basis is in place to extend these. The development of this logic is non-trivial and addresses several difficult problems engendered by the unstructured nature of bytecode programs.
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