ACM SIGPLAN Notices

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ISSN / EISSN : 0362-1340 / 1558-1160
Total articles ≅ 9,676
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Adilla Susungi, Norman A. Rink, Albert Cohen, Jeronimo Castrillon, Claude Tadonki
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 79-92; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278131

Abstract:
Many modern application domains crucially rely on tensor operations. The optimization of programs that operate on tensors poses difficulties that are not adequately addressed by existing languages and tools. Frameworks such as TensorFlow offer good abstractions for tensor operations, but target a specific domain, i.e. machine learning, and their optimization strategies cannot easily be adjusted to other domains. General-purpose optimization tools such as Pluto and existing meta-languages offer more flexibility in applying optimizations but lack abstractions for tensors. This work closes the gap between domain-specific tensor languages and general-purpose optimization tools by proposing the Tensor optimizations Meta-Language (TeML). TeML offers high-level abstractions for both tensor operations and loop transformations, and enables flexible composition of transformations into effective optimization paths. This compositionality is built into TeML's design, as our formal language specification will reveal. We also show that TeML can express tensor computations as comfortably as TensorFlow and that it can reproduce Pluto's optimization paths. Thus, optimized programs generated by TeML execute at least as fast as the corresponding Pluto programs. In addition, TeML enables optimization paths that often allow outperforming Pluto.
Ahmad Salim Al-Sibahi, Thomas P. Jensen, Aleksandar S. Dimovski, Andrzej Wąsowski
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 147-160; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278125

Abstract:
High-level transformation languages like Rascal include expressive features for manipulating large abstract syntax trees: first-class traversals, expressive pattern matching, backtracking and generalized iterators. We present the design and implementation of an abstract interpretation tool, Rabit, for verifying inductive type and shape properties for transformations written in such languages. We describe how to perform abstract interpretation based on operational semantics, specifically focusing on the challenges arising when analyzing the expressive traversals and pattern matching. Finally, we evaluate Rabit on a series of transformations (normalization, desugaring, refactoring, code generators, type inference, etc.) showing that we can effectively verify stated properties.
Weixin Zhang, Bruno C. D. S. Oliveira
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 134-146; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278124

Abstract:
Pattern matching is a pervasive and useful feature in functional programming. There have been many attempts to bring similar notions to Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) in the past. However, a key challenge in OOP is how pattern matching can coexist with the open nature of OOP data structures, while at the same time guaranteeing other desirable properties for pattern matching. This paper discusses several desirable properties for pattern matching in an OOP context and shows how existing approaches are lacking some of these properties. We argue that the traditional semantics of pattern matching, which is based on the order of patterns and adopted by many approaches, is in conflict with the openness of data structures. Therefore we suggest that a more restricted, top-level pattern matching model, where the order of patterns is irrelevant, is worthwhile considering in an OOP context. To compensate for the absence of ordered patterns we propose a complementary mechanism for case analysis with defaults, which can be used when nested and/or multiple case analysis is needed. To illustrate our points we develop Castor: a meta-programming library inScala that adopts both ideas. Castor generates code that uses type-safe extensible visitors, and largely removes boilerplate code typically associated with visitors. We illustrate the applicability of our approach with a case study modularizing the interpreters in the famous book ”Types and Programming Languages”.
Karl Smeltzer, Martin Erwig
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 1-13; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278138

Abstract:
With an ever-growing amount of collected data, the importance of visualization as an analysis component is growing in concert. The creation of good visualizations often doesn't happen in one step but is rather an iterative and exploratory process. However, this process is currently not well supported in most of the available visualization tools and systems. Visualization authors are forced to commit prematurely to particular design aspects of their creations, and when exploring potential variant visualizations, they are forced to adopt ad hoc techniques such as copying code snippets or keeping a collection of separate files. We propose variational visualizations as a model supporting open-ended exploration of the design space of information visualization. Together with that model, we present a prototype implementation in the form of a domain-specific language embedded in Purescript.
Nic Volanschi, Bernard Serpette, Charles Consel
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 66-78; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278134

Abstract:
In spite of the fact that many sensors in use today are binary (i.e. produce only values of 0 and 1), and that useful context-aware applications are built exclusively on top of them, there is currently no development approach specifically targeted to binary sensors. Dealing with notions of state and state combinators, central to binary sensors, is tedious and error-prone in current approaches. For instance, developing such applications in a general programming language requires writing code to process events, maintain state and perform state transitions on events, manage timers and/or event histories. In another paper, we introduced a domain specific language (DSL) called Allen, specifically targeted to binary sensors. Allen natively expresses states and state combinations, and detects contexts on line, on incoming streams of binary events. Expressing state combinations in Allen is natural and intuitive due to a key ingredient: semi-causal operators. That paper focused on the concept of the language and its main operators, but did not address its implementation challenges. Indeed, online evaluation of expressions containing semi-causal operators is difficult, because semi-causal sub-expressions may block waiting for future events, thus generating unknown values, besides 0 and 1. These unknown values may or may not propagate to the containing expressions, depending on the current value of the other arguments. This paper presents a compiler and runtime for the Allen language, and shows how they implement its state combining operators, based on reducing complex expressions to a core subset of operators, which are implemented natively. We define several assisted living applications both in Allen and in a general scripting language. We show that the former are much more concise in Allen, achieve more effective code reuse, and ease the checking of some domain properties.
Larissa Rocha Soares, Jens Meinicke, Sarah Nadi, Christian Kästner, Eduardo Santana De Almeida
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 40-52; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278127

Abstract:
In highly configurable systems, features may interact unexpectedly and produce faulty behavior. Those faults are not easily identified from the analysis of each feature separately, especially when feature specifications are missing. We propose VarXplorer, a dynamic and iterative approach to detect suspicious interactions. It provides information on how features impact the control and data flow of the program. VarXplorer supports developers with a graph that visualizes this information, mainly showing suppress and require relations between features. To evaluate whether VarXplorer helps improve the performance of identifying suspicious interactions, we perform a controlled study with 24 subjects. We find that with our proposed feature-interaction graphs, participants are able to identify suspicious interactions more than 3 times faster compared to the state-of-the-art tool.
Sebastian Ruland, Lars Luthmann, Johannes Bürdek, Sascha Lity, Thomas Thüm, Malte Lochau, Márcio Ribeiro
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 119-133; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278130

Abstract:
Recent research on quality assurance (QA) of configurable software systems (e.g., software product lines) proposes different analysis strategies to cope with the inherent complexity caused by the well-known combinatorial-explosion problem. Those strategies aim at improving efficiency of QA techniques like software testing as compared to brute-force configuration-by-configuration analysis. Sampling constitutes one of the most established strategies, defining criteria for selecting a drastically reduced, yet sufficiently diverse subset of software configurations considered during QA. However, finding generally accepted measures for assessing the impact of sample-based analysis on the effectiveness of QA techniques is still an open issue. We address this problem by lifting concepts from single-software mutation testing to configurable software. Our framework incorporates a rich collection of mutation operators for product lines implemented in C to measure mutation scores of samples, including a novel family-based technique for product-line mutation detection. Our experimental results gained from applying our tool implementation to a collection of subject systems confirms the widely-accepted assumption that pairwise sampling constitutes the most reasonable efficiency/effectiveness trade-off for sample-based product-line testing.
Gabriel Radanne, Peter Thiemann
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 202-214; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278133

Abstract:
Regular expressions are part of every programmer’s toolbox. They are used for a wide variety of language-related tasks and there are many algorithms for manipulating them. In particular, matching algorithms that detect whether a word belongs to the language described by a regular expression are well explored, yet new algorithms appear frequently. However, there is no satisfactory methodology for testing such matchers. We propose a testing methodology which is based on generating positive as well as negative examples of words in the language. To this end, we present a new algorithm to generate the language described by a generalized regular expression with intersection and complement operators. The complement operator allows us to generate both positive and negative example words from a given regular expression. We implement our generator in Haskell and OCaml and show that its performance is more than adequate for testing.
Jácome Cunha, Mihai Dan, Martin Erwig, Danila Fedorin, Alex Grejuc
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 161-167; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278136

Abstract:
Based on the concept of explanation sheets, we present an approach to make spreadsheets easier to understand and thus easier to use and maintain. We identify the notion of explanation soundness and show that explanation sheets which conform to simple rules of formula coverage provide sound explanations. We also present a practical evaluation of explanation sheets based on samples drawn from widely used spreadsheet corpora and based on a small user study. In addition to supporting spreadsheet understanding and maintenance, our work on explanation sheets has also uncovered several general principles of explanation languages that can help guide the design of explanations for other programming and domain-specific languages.
L. Thomas Van Binsbergen
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 53, pp 168-174; https://doi.org/10.1145/3393934.3278132

Abstract:
The PLanCompS project proposes a component-based approach to programming-language development in which fundamental constructs (funcons) are reused across language definitions. Homogeneous Generative Meta-Programming (HGMP) enables writing programs that generate code as data, at run-time or compile-time, for manipulation and staged evaluation. Building on existing formalisations of HGMP, this paper introduces funcons for HGMP and demonstrates their usage in component-based semantics.
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