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Perl 6 and Parrot Essentials, Second Edition by Leopold Tötsch, Dan Sugalski, Allison Randal

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Advanced Features

Since the languages Parrot targets (like Perl and Ruby) have sophisticated concepts as core features, it’s in Parrot’s best interest to have core support for them. This section covers some (but not all) of these features.

Garbage Collection

It’s expected that modern languages have garbage collection built in. The programmer shouldn’t have to worry about explicitly cleaning up after dead variables, or even identifying them. For interpreted languages, this requires support from the interpreter engine, so Parrot provides that support.

Parrot has two separate allocation systems built into it. Each allocation system has its own garbage collection scheme. Parrot also has some strict rules over what can be referenced and from where. This allows it to have a more efficient garbage collection system.

The first allocation system is responsible for PMC and string structures. These are fixed-sized objects that Parrot allocates out of arenas, which are pools of identically sized things. Using arenas makes it easy for Parrot to find and track them, and speeds up the detection of dead objects.

Parrot’s dead object detection system works by first running through all the arenas and marking all strings and PMCs as dead. It then runs through the stacks and registers, marking all strings and PMCs they reference as alive. Next, it iteratively runs through all the live PMCs and strings and marks everything they reference as alive. Finally, it sweeps through all the arenas looking for ...

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