Developing a Foundation for Code Optimization

Mary Lou Soffa,University of Pittsburgh, USA

Although optimization technology has been successful over the past 40 years, recent trends are emerging that demand we reconsider the paradigm that we are using for code optimization. In particular, the trends toward dynamic optimization, writing embedded system software in high level languages and the lack of significant performance improvement from current optimization research are forcing us to rethink what we know and do not know about optimization.  A number of problems dealing with both semantic and application properties of optimizations have always existed but have been mostly ignored.  The challenge in optimization today is to explore properties of optimizations and develop a framework for better understanding and use of optimizations.  Fortunately, research is starting to explore properties, including proving the soundness of optimizations, proving the correctness of optimizations, specifications of optimizations, and the predictability of profits of optimizations.  Not only must we understand the properties, but we also need to integrate the properties into a framework.  Only then can we address the problems of the developing trends.