School of Computing

Beltway: Getting around garbage collection gridlock

Stephen M. Blackburn, Richard Jones, Kathryn S. McKinley, and J. Eliot B. Moss

In Laurie J. Hendren, editor, Proceedings of PLDI'02 Programming Language Design and Implementation, pages 182-196, Berlin, June 2002. ACM Press.


We present the design and implementation of a new garbage collection framework that significantly generalizes existing copying collectors. The Beltway framework exploits and separates object age and incrementality. It groups objects in one or more increments on queues called belts, collects belts independently, and collects increments on a belt in first-in-first-out order. We show that Beltway configurations, selected by command line options, act and perform the same as semi-space, generational, and older-first collectors, and encompass all previous copying collectors of which we are aware. The increasing reliance on garbage collected languages such as Java requires that the collector perform well. We show that the generality of Beltway enables us to design and implement new collectors that are robust to variations in heap size and improve total execution time over the best generational copying collectors of which we are aware by up to 40%, and on average by 5 to 10%, for small to moderate heap sizes. New garbage collection algorithms are rare, and yet we define not just one, but a new family of collectors that subsumes previous work. This generality enables us to explore a larger design space and build better collectors. Download publication 451 kbytes (PostScript)

Bibtex Record

author = {Stephen M. Blackburn and Richard Jones and Kathryn S. McKinley and J. Eliot B. Moss},
title = {Beltway: Getting Around Garbage Collection Gridlock},
month = {June},
year = {2002},
pages = {182-196},
keywords = {determinacy analysis, Craig interpolants},
note = {},
doi = {},
url = {},
    publication_type = {inproceedings},
    submission_id = {12046_1019205282},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of PLDI'02 Programming Language Design and Implementation},
    editor = {Laurie J. Hendren},
    address = {Berlin},
    publisher = {ACM Press},
    refereed = {Yes},
    ISBN = {1-58113-463-0},

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