Performance is Dead, Long Live Performance!

Friday Oct. 8, 2010
Location: GHC 6115
Time: 11AM


Ben Zorn
Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research


In a world of social networking, security attacks, and hot mobile phones, the importance of application performance appears to have diminished. My own research agenda has shifted from looking at the performance of memory allocation to building runtime systems that are more resilient to data corruption and security attacks. In my talk, I will outline a number of areas where code-generation and runtime techniques can be successfully applied to areas for purposes other than performance, such as fault tolerance, reliability, and security. Along the way, I will consider such questions as “Does it really matter if this corruption was caused by a software or hardware error?” and “Is it okay to let a malicious person allocate arbitrary data on my heap?”.
Despite these other opportunities, the importance of performance in modern applications remains undiminished, and current hardware trends place an increasing burden on software to provide needed performance boosts. In concluding, I will suggest several important trends that I believe will help define the next 10 years of code generation and optimization research.


Ben Zorn is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. After receiving a PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 1989, he served eight years on the Computer Science faculty at the University of Colorado in Boulder, receiving tenure and being promoted to Associate Professor in 1996. He left the University of Colorado in 1998 to join Microsoft Research, where he currently works. Ben's research interests include programming language design and implementation and performance measurement and analysis. He has served as an Associate Editor of the ACM journals Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems and Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization and he currently serves as a Member-at-Large of the SIGPLAN Executive Committee. For more information, visit his web page at

Back to the seminar page