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Understanding Memory Allocation of Scheme Programs
Serrano, Manuel; Boehm, Hans
Keyword(s): memory management; profiling; garbage collection
Abstract: Memory is the performance bottleneck of modern architectures. Keeping memory consumption as low as possible enables fast and unobtrusive applications. But it is not easy to estimate the memory use of programs implemented in functional languages, due to both the complex translations of some high level constructs, and the use of automatic memory managers. To help understand memory allocation behavior of Scheme programs, we have designed two complementary tools. The first one reports on frequency of allocation, heap configurations and on memory reclamation. The second tracks down memory leaks. We have applied these tools to our Scheme compiler, the largest Scheme program we have been developing. This has allowed us to drastically reduce the amount of memory consumed during its bootstrap process, without requiring much development time. Development tools will be neglected unless they are both conveniently accessible and easy to use. In order to avoid this pitfall, we have carefully designed the user interface of these two tools. Their integration into a real programming environment for Scheme is detailed in the paper.
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