Open Position: Compiler Apprentice

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
2 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Open Position: Compiler Apprentice

stephan.herrmann
In the other thread we had some talk about the special character of the compiler
part of JDT/Core and also about my current role in that.

I would love to specifically mentor one candidate who has ambitions to take some
responsibility in this highly demanding, but also highly rewarding work.


Let me start by saying, that of course I'm not alone in that area:

Manoj and Jay work in all areas of JDT including the compiler. Unfortunately,
much of their time is absorbed by implementing new features and requirements
from new Java versions. That's why I speak of my responsibility for compiler
*maintenance* - as that's the current division of labor between us.

I mentioned Till, who is very capable of fixing compiler bugs of any kind, but
his total time for Eclipse is very limited (and his interest is not only on
JDT/Core).

Many(!) others have provided the odd bug fix here or there. For those who
weren't around: this was totally different when I became a JDT committer 10
years ago. NOBODY dropped in just to fix a bug or two. It was 100% IBM - until
then :)  Of course I'm more than happy how things have changed since then!


When I speak of an "apprentice" I'm thinking of helping you from one or two bug
fixes towards mastering all areas of the compiler.


"Is this for me?"

It certainly helps, if you had contact to compilers before, perhaps you even
remember a university class on this subject. You need to be prepared to dig into
all details of JLS, check each i if it has a dot, and challenge every comma if
it is an and or an or. The other arm of information is linked via git history.
There's a wealth of bugs where JDT committers from all eras have discussed JLS,
read between the lines of JLS and how that could possibly be the same language
as what javac implements (it isn't). This information is indispensable, because
only with this source you can understand why some code arms that contradict JLS
are intended and necessary for some degree of javac compatibility - sigh.

On the positive side: once you have a test case for a given bug, there usually
is no randomness, no intermittent failures (usually [1]). Still, the code
location you need to debug may be hit thousands of times even on the simplest
code example. So there is plenty of room for sharpening your debugging-fu.

Let's be honest: this course is not a matter of a few days, nor a few weeks.
More likely we'll be speaking of years. Hopefully, this will be a gradual
experience with more and more kinds of bugs surrendering when they see you. But
if responsibility is the goal, then, yes, it's a matter of years.

"Is this really just about converting .java into .class?"

The compiler is the heart of more features than may be visible from the outside.
I believe the most complex part is what they call "semantic analysis", split
into resolving and flow analysis. This is where most errors and warnings are
raised. At the far end, during code generation, there is one aspect that also I
don't fully understand: generating stack maps. Olivier is the guru of that part.
Perhaps also Olivier would like to pass on his specific knowledge, in particular
after his recent re-work.

Right next to regular compilation there are two engines, which are essentially
variants of the compiler, where the goal is not byte code, but resolving a word
that was selected in the editor (SelectionEngine), or proposing completions
(CompletionEngine). The latter two, are particularly sore spots, because the way
they interact with the Parser is quite messy. More on that in a separate message.


Then there's a lot of converting between internal compiler AST and the other
program representations Java Model and DOM AST, which then are the API through
which clients (incl. JDT/UI & JDT/Debug) see Java programs.

Indexing & search all have their connections to (parts of) the compiler.


For an apprenticeship it might be interesting to ask Jay & Manoj if they can use
a helping hand for a new Java feature, but note that these tasks have a tight
and firm schedule. Otherwise, we have unbounded supply of bugs waiting to be
analysed and fixed.

As your PhD you may even add an optional semantic analysis for detecting even
more programming problems, and raising warnings.

Closer towards the point of taking responsibility, you'll be monitoring
jdt-core-inbox and have lots of interesting discussions with users: (a) until
they provide sufficient detail to reproducibly show their problem and (b)
whether or not a difference between ecj & javac is our bug or "theirs". One of
the nice comments I once received was: 'I knew it could also be a bug in javac,
but I filed it at Eclipse because here I get timely answers' :).



Applications can be sent informally to this list :)

Stephan

[1] I once and only once succeeded in introducing a concurrency bug into the
compiler: https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=372319 which was one of
the spookiest stories. Normally compiler bugs don't get 120 comments within a
few weeks.
_______________________________________________
jdt-dev mailing list
[hidden email]
To unsubscribe from this list, visit https://www.eclipse.org/mailman/listinfo/jdt-dev
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Open Position: Compiler Apprentice

Roland Grunberg
On Wed, 2020-06-03 at 21:59 +0200, Stephan Herrmann wrote:
> In the other thread we had some talk about the special character of
> the compiler
> part of JDT/Core and also about my current role in that.
>
> I would love to specifically mentor one candidate who has ambitions
> to take some
> responsibility in this highly demanding, but also highly rewarding
> work.

>
> Applications can be sent informally to this list :)

I would definitely like to apply for this.

I see my contributing to JDT UI as a way to also move a bit in this
direction. As part of the work to improve Postfix Completion, I've run
into a few bugs that show the limitations of AST node recovery in (but
not limited to) lambda expressions, so this is also a bit of a
motivation to contribute.

I've looked in the past at the indexing API and how data is stored in
the various category tables for optimizing search queries in certain
cases but would be glad to learn more about the compiler and parsing
aspects over time.

Cheers,
--
Roland Grunberg

_______________________________________________
jdt-dev mailing list
[hidden email]
To unsubscribe from this list, visit https://www.eclipse.org/mailman/listinfo/jdt-dev