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The Design and Evaluation of A High Performance Smalltalk System

Ungar, David Michael
Technical Report Identifier: CSD-86-287
February 1986

Abstract: The Smalltalk-80 system makes it possible to write programs quickly by providing object-oriented programming, incremental compilation, run-time type checking, use-extensible data types and control structures, and an interactive graphical interface. However, the potential savings in programming effort have been curtailed by poor performance in widely available computers or high processor cost. Smalltalk-80 systems pose tough challenges for implementors: dynamic data typing, a high-level instruction set, frequent and expensive procedure calls, and object-oriented storage management.

The dissertation documents two results that run counter to conventional wisdom: that a reduced instruction set computer can offer excellent performance for a system with dynamic data typing such as Smalltalk-80, and that automatic storage reclamation need not be time-consuming.