Garbage Collection in a Very Large Address Space

Unknown author (1975-09)

This research was done at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was supported by the Office of Naval Research under contract number N00014-75-C-0522.

Working Paper

The address space is broken into areas that can be garbage collected separately. An area is analogous to a file on current systems. Each process has a local computation area for its stack and temporary storage that is roughly analogous to a job core image. A mechanism is introduced for maintaining lists of inter-area links, the key to separate garbage collection. This mechanism is designed to be placed in hardware and does not create much overhead. It could be used in a practical computer system that uses the same address space for all users for the life of the system. It is necessary for the hardware to implement a reference count scheme that is adequate for handling stack frames. The hardware also facilitates implementation of protection by capabilities without the use of unique codes. This is due to elimination of dangling references. Areas can be deleted without creating dangling references.