Skip to main content
Generating Object Lifetime Traces with Merlin
ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems (2006)
  • Eliot B. Moss, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Programmers are writing a rapidly growing number of programs in object-oriented languages, such as Java and C#, that require garbage collection. Garbage collection traces and simulation speed up research by enabling deeper understandings of object lifetime behavior and quick exploration and design of new garbage collection algorithms. When generating perfect traces, the brute-force method of computing object lifetimes requires a whole-heap garbage collection at every potential collection point in the program. Because this process is prohibitively expensive, researchers often use granulated traces by collecting only periodically, for example, every 32 KB of allocation. We extend the state of the art for simulating garbage collection algorithms in two ways. First, we develop a systematic methodology for simulation studies of copying garbage collection and present results showing the effects of trace granularity on these simulations.We show that trace granularity often distorts simulated garbage collection results compared with perfect traces. Second, we present and measure the performance of a new algorithm called Merlin for computing object lifetimes.

Publication Date
May, 2006
Citation Information
Eliot B. Moss. "Generating Object Lifetime Traces with Merlin" ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems Vol. 28 Iss. 3 (2006)
Available at: