Specializing Ropes for Ruby

Specializing Ropes for Ruby

Kevin Menard, Chris Seaton

22 April 2016

Ropes are a data structure for representing character strings via a binary tree of operation-labeled nodes. Both the nodes and the trees constructed from them are immutable, making ropes a persistent data structure. Ropes were designed to perform well with large strings, and in particular, concatenation of large strings. We present our findings in using ropes to implement mutable strings in JRuby+Truffle, an implementation of the Ruby programming language using a self-specializing abstract syntax tree interpreter and dynamic compilation. We extend ropes to support Ruby language features such as encodings and refine operations to better support typical Ruby programs. We also use ropes to work around underlying limitations of the JVM platform in representing strings. Finally, we evaluate the performance of our implementation of ropes and demonstrate that they perform 0.9x – 9.4x as fast as byte array-based string representations in representative benchmarks.


Venue : Implementation, Compilation, Optimization of Object-Oriented Languages, Programs and Systems Workshop (ICOOOLPS)