[pypy-dev] Talked at ESUG

Armin Rigo arigo at tunes.org
Fri Aug 31 10:05:55 CEST 2007

Hi all,

As some of you know I've just given a talk at the ESUG (European
Smalltalk User Group) conference, in Lugano.  I mostly showed up for my
talk only, staying only one night.  The talk yesterday late afternoon
went well; it was the demo part of the talk we gave at Dyla.  Thanks to
Roel for pushing us to give a presentation here - it seems quite unusual
to have presentations that are given by "outsiders" of Smalltalk, and
the organizers suggested to the audiance that I should get an extra
applause for daring come and talk :-)

Some people had hard about PyPy already, even though it's clear that in
the Smalltalk situation the whole approach we took in PyPy is a bit
overkill: it's a very stable language that existed and had good VMs for
a very long time, with a relatively small core and a lot of things
merely written in Smalltalk on top of it.  This was the argument I
received when I tried to discuss with someone working on XTC, a JIT
compiler for Squeak (yet another) - the language is too small to bother
with more general techniques, and he might be right for now.  (I cannot
seem to find his work by googling.)  Where I failed to convince him was
that PyPy was a possibly better alternative to "plans" like: all
Smalltalk-like languages (Self, dialects, etc.) should be implemented in
a single VM in a way that allows a single JIT for them all.

Non-performance-related benefits of PyPy are also not completely clear
for Smalltalk given that the language is more flexible than Python to
start with.  However, people generally see why we'd like such things for
Python-like languages - I think it's a very positive thing.  I also
believe that presenting the PyPy approach to different communities can
contribute just a little bit in the long run to push forward some ideas;
for example, people may think twice about Slang or equivalents and see
if it could be practical to make these languages just a bit higher
level, e.g. move them above the GC.

A final note is that talking about PyPy in live seems to be very
important.  Various people had spend some time looking around our web
site because they had heard about PyPy, but mostly failed to understand
what we were trying to do.  For most talks we have given about PyPy I
remember getting some feedback of people that now, at least, had got an
overview about what we were doing.

A bientot,


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