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A real-time garbage collector based on the lifetimes of objects

By Henry Lieberman, Carl Hewitt

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 26 No. 6, Pages 419-429

In previous heap storage systems, the cost of creating objects and garbage collection is independent of the lifetime of the object. Since objects with short lifetimes account for a large portion of storage use, it is worth optimizing a garbage collector to reclaim storage for these objects more quickly. The garbage collector should spend proportionately less effort reclaiming objects with longer lifetimes. We present a garbage collection algorithm that (1) makes storage for short-lived objects cheaper than storage for long-lived objects, (2) that operates in real time—object creation and access times are bounded, (3) increases locality of reference, for better virtual memory performance, (4) works well with multiple processors and a large address space.

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