Teaching garbage collection without implementing compilers or interpreters

Gregory H. Cooper*, Arjun Guha, Shriram Krishnamurthi, Jay McCarthy, Robert Findler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Given the widespread use of memory-safe languages, stu-dents must understand garbage collection well. Following a constructivist philosophy, an effective approach would be to have them implement garbage collectors. Unfortunately, a full implementation depends on substantial knowledge of compilers and runtime systems, which many courses do not cover or cannot assume. This paper presents an instructive approach to teaching gc, where students implement it atop a simplified stack and heap. Our approach eliminates enormous curricular depen-dencies while preserving the essence of gc algorithms. We take pains to enable testability, comprehensibility, and fa-cilitates debugging. Our approach has been successfully classroom-tested for several years at several institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSIGCSE 2013 - Proceedings of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Pages385-390
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Apr 22 2013
Event44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2013 - Denver, CO, United States
Duration: Mar 6 2013Mar 9 2013

Publication series

NameSIGCSE 2013 - Proceedings of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Other

Other44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDenver, CO
Period3/6/133/9/13

Keywords

  • Garbage collection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education

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