Title : Runtime Compilation of Array-Oriented Python Programs

Candidate: Alex Rubinsteyn
Advisor: Dennis Shasha

Abstract: The Python programming language has become a popular platform for data analysis and scientific computing. To mitigate the poor performance of Python's standard interpreter, numerically intensive computations are typically offloaded to library functions written in languages such as Fortran or C. If, however, some algorithm does not have an existing low-level implementation, then the scientific programmer must either accept sub-standard performance (sometimes orders of magnitude slower than native code) or themselves implement the desired functionality in a less productive but more efficient language.

To alleviate this problem, this thesis present Parakeet, a runtime compiler for an array-oriented subset of Python. Parakeet does not replace the Python interpreter, but rather selectively augments it by compiling and executing functions explicitly marked by the programmer. Parakeet uses runtime type specialization to eliminate the performance-defeating dynamicism of untyped Python code. Parakeet's pervasive use of data parallel operators as a means for implementing array operations enables high-level restructuring optimization and compilation to parallel hardware such as multi-core CPUs and graphics processors. We evaluate Parakeet on a collection of numerical benchmarks and demonstrate its dramatic capacity for accelerating array-oriented Python programs.