Presentation: Purdue University Computer Science Colloquia-Mint: A Multi-stage Extension of Java

Purdue University
Computer Science Colloquia
Mint: A Multi-stage Extension of Java
(PowerPoint, PDF, view embedded)
Mr. Mathias Ricken
Rice University
LWSN 3102 A/B
Monday, March 15, 2010
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Complete Description:
Multi-stage programming (MSP) provides a safe way of generating code at run-time. In mostly-functional languages like MetaOCaml, this has been used to reduce the performance penalties of abstractions such as loops, recursion or interpretation. The main advantage of MSP compared to other techniques, such as string or LISP quotations, is that MSP guarantees type safety for the generated code statically, at the time the program is compiled.

Unfortunately, MSP is difficult to combine with imperative features found in most mainstream languages like Java. The central problem is “scope extrusion”, which may accidentally move variables outside the scopes in which they are bound, leading to run-time errors in the generated code. This problem can be prevented if code in escapes (or “anti-quotes”) is “weakly separable”, i.e. the computational effects occurring inside an escape that are visible from the outside do not involve code.

We have formalized a type system, based on Lightweight Java, that uses weak separability to prevent scope extrusion, and we have proved that the type system is sound. We have also developed an implementation called Mint to demonstrate the expressivity of the type system and the performance benefits MSP can provide in an imperative setting. Since our implementation extends the Java language, our work is accessible to mainstream programmers.

This talk is based on work will be presented at the Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI 2010). More information is available at

Mathias Ricken is a doctoral candidate in the Programming Languages Team at Rice University and one of the principal developers of the DrJava integrated development environment. His research interests include concurrent programming, extending the Java language, and computer science education. He is the developer of the Concutest concurrent unit testing framework and has created various experimental extensions of Java to address, for instance, programming with meta-data. Currently, Mathias is contributing to Mint, a multi-stage
extension of Java that allows safe and expressive statically typed program generation and specialization in an imperative language setting.

Faculty and students wishing to speak privately with Mr. Ricken should contact Jan Vitek at


About Mathias

Software development engineer. Principal developer of DrJava. Recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.
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