On the performance of reflective systems software

Coulson, G and Blair, G and Grace, P (2004) On the performance of reflective systems software. In: Proceedings of the 2004 IEEE International Performance, Computing, and Communications Conference. IEEE, Phoenix, pp. 763-769. ISBN 0-7803-8396-6

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Reflection is widely acknowledged as a useful mechanism for facilitating the run-time adaptation/reconfiguration of software. Often, however, it is also thought to impose intolerably high overheads in performance-critical systems software environments like middleware platforms, operating systems, or programmable routers. In this paper we argue that there are many varieties of reflection (i.e. many types of 'meta-models') and that some of these in fact impose zero or negligible overhead. We further argue that in many cases, particularly cases involving highly dynamic software environments, reflection can actually enhance performance by laying open choices of alternative mechanisms that are best suited to current environmental conditions. Finally, we discuss the case of interception meta-models which, in many implementations, do lead to significant performance problems, and present our experience to date in attempting to minimise these problems.

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09 Mar 2012 14:48
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21 Nov 2022 14:28