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From Steve Blackburn <Steve.Blackb...@anu.edu.au>
Subject Research
Date Sat, 14 May 2005 06:30:40 GMT
A lot of the existing work on open VMs has come out of the academic
and industrial research communities (Jikes RVM, SableVM, ORP, OVM,
Joeq, LLVM...).

I think it may be worthwhile considering both what the research
community's needs are and what the research community can bring to the
harmony project.

 . The research community needs access to a quality VM with a liberal
   license.

     - Performance is key to credibility.  A research result that shows
       a 10% speedup over something we know to perform awfully is of
       little interest to anyone.  This is a reason why Jikes RVM has
       been attractive to researchers.  Consider the number of
       institutions, names and hours represented in this list:
       http://jikesrvm.sourceforge.net/info/papers.shtml. When I was
       at U. Mass we stopped what had been a huge effort to build our
       own JVM and instead put our resources into Jikes RVM because it
       had an outstanding optimizing compiler and (at the time) was
       very competitive with the best commercial VMs.

     - Software quality is very important.  The software must be
       flexible and modular to facilitate rapid realization of new
       ideas.

     - Researchers don't want to be locked in by a license (some
       commercial licenses, for example).  They also want a
       transparent development model where they can see what's going
       on and what is likely to happen.  Above all, many researchers
       get a real buzz out of seeing their neat ideas being widely
       used, so they want a model that allows them to recontribute
       their work.

 . The research community can bring cutting edge technology to a VM.

     - The amount and variety of Java technology emerging from the
       academic research community is amazing.  The biggest challenge
       is channeling those ideas back into VM infrastructures.  This
       is partly a cultural issue and partly a software engineering
       issue.  If the software is not readily amenable to
       contributions of radical technology, such contributions are
       unlikely to happen.  If academics are not part of or don't
       understand the open community they won't be part of the culture
       of contribution.

So, the academic community represents a huge intellectual resource.
For a project with big ambitions and yet so dependent on cutting edge
technology, harnessing some of that intellectual resource is going to be
important.

--Steve

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