The AOS Platform: a future python VM?

Sandy Norton sandskyfly at
Sun Nov 18 16:39:27 CET 2001

Having just recently downloaded an early seed version of David
Simmons' AOS/Smallscript system from, I
must say I'm very impressed: Mr. Simmons seemed to have built a very
fast virtual machine with a 'quasi-language-independent' architecture
that can handle the overhead and complexity of dynamically typed
languages, and compile straight to highly optimized machine code or to
intermediate bytecode that can run on the .NET platform.

Of more interest to pythonistas is that he has explicitly indicated an
interested in creating a python implementation that utilizes the AOS
virtual machine.

Here's a direct quote from Simmons in a prior posting:


> What do you mean by "quasi language independent" -- that it supports
> SmallScript and the "convential" AOS Smalltalk? Will it support python, for
> example?

This 4th generation of the AOS Platform has been developed and tested
dynamic (and dynamically typed) languages and is geared as an adaptive
virtual machine jitting model. Specific work has not been done, in
generation, for implementing a particular statically typed (compiled)
language. The object model and internal architecture are designed with
languages in mind. But, there are areas in the architecture that have
been fleshed out and validated. So, it is really wrong to declare it
as a
generic language independent UVM.

As to Python specifically, I want to stress that work is currently
on delivering the .NET, PPC, and x86 platform versions. The
language layer and related general compiler frameworks are basically
completed and have been for some time.

The compiler architecture and SmallScript language design has, from
inception, been geared for enabling hi-performance support of a
variety of
Scripting languages. Out of the dirth of scripting languages
Python and PHP are at the top of our well-known candidate list. There
parties who have either expressed an interest in or are working on
such as Scheme, JScript, and Basic.

Once the other pieces are in place, more attention will be focused on
in Python and PHP. Reality dictates that direct compilation/execution
support for Java and C# are also worthy of serious consideration at

As an aside, the execution performance numbers for
SmallScript/Smalltalk are
directly indicative of the level of performance one could expect for
or PHP on the same platform.


With Armin Rigo's uber-cool efforts on Psyco (Python specializing
compiler), the possibility of an AOS/Python implementation, and the
interesting stuff that's being done on Parrot(a common language
runtime for perl and python): the future for python looks extremely

Now if only we had a time machine... (-:



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