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Code optimization: course introduction

Dr. Vedran Miletić, Assist. Prof.

Faculty of Informatics and Digital Technologies, University of Rijeka

YUFE course, first offered in the 2021/2022 academic year

Vedran Miletić

  • 2009. M. Ed. in math and CS
  • 2015. Ph. D. in computer science
  • 2015--2018. PostDoc in scientific computing, specifically computational biochemistry
  • 2019--2021. Senior Lecturer in computer science
  • 2021--now Assistant Professor in computer science
  • Interests: parallelization and other performance optimization techniques in scientific software

Learning outcomes (1/2)

  • I1. Analyse the properties enabling code transformation and represent the code using a flowchart.
  • I2. Show the differences between local and global optimization and identify where each of them applies.
  • I3. Perform a conventional data flow analysis, register allocation by graph colouring and common subexpression elimination.

Learning outcomes (2/2)

  • I4. Describe mode of operation of higher-level optimization and apply existing optimizations.
  • I5. Describe differences between higher-level optimizations and target architecture-specific optimizations.
  • I6. Choose instructions.
  • I7. Analyse the problem of optimization phase sequence.

Course content (1/3)

  • Overview of programming language optimizing compiler. Optimization per elements. Analysis of properties enabling transformation. Flowchart and representation of program concepts. Problem of optimization phase sequence.
  • Types of optimization. Local optimization: peephole optimization, instruction scheduling. Global optimization: common subexpressions, code changes. Interprocedural optimization. Call graph.

Course content (2/3)

  • Conventional data flow analysis. Algorithms on graphs, sets of live and available variables. Register allocation by graph colouring. Common subexpression elimination. Spilling to memory; use of temporary expressions introduced during common subexpression elimination. Data flow anomalies. Static single assignment form.

Course content (3/3)

  • Overview of higher-level optimizations. Pointer analysis and pseudonym analysis.
  • Target architecture-specific optimization. Choice of instruction. Instruction scheduling and related problem of optimization phase sequence.

Activities: Written commentary

  • short written commentary on a given topic
  • e.g. compare the target-dependent optimizations available in GCC and Clang/LLVM compilers
  • 2 during the semester
  • max. 10 points in total

Activities: Quiz

  • online quiz on the topics from the lectures
  • e.g. explain the difference between analysis and transformation stages of optimization
  • 2 during the semester
  • max. 20 points in total

Activities: Homework

  • exercises related to the lectures
  • e.g. perform common sub-expression elimnation on a given code
  • 2 during the semester
  • max. 30 points in total

Activities: Summary and requirements

  • 10 (Written commentary) + 20 (Quiz) + 30 (Homework) = 60, min. 30 required to be able to take the course project

Activities: Project

  • implementation of given optimization techniques in the LLVM compiler
  • max. 40 points in total, min. 20 required to pass the course

Points to grades

  • 60 (pre-Project) + 40 (Project) = 100 points
  • min. 30 + 20 = 50 points
  • 90--100 points => grade 5
  • 75--89,9 points => grade 4
  • 60--74,9 points => grade 3
  • 50--59,9 points => grade 2

Usage of ChatGPT

  • You are allowed to use ChatGPT. However, if you use it, make sure that you:
    • thoroughly check the produced output and verify its correctness with external sources, and
    • note the usage of ChatGPT (e.g. in a paragraph at the start of the written commentary or homework).

Mandatory literature

  1. Cooper, K. D. & Torczon, L. Engineering a compiler. (Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann, 2011).
  2. Holub, A. I. Compiler design in C. (Prentice Hall, 1990). (e-book is available for free download from the author's site
  3. Scripts, presentations and other learning material available in the e-course.


  • For lectures we will be reusing the presentations authored by Timothy Jones, Tom Stuart, and Alan Mycroft (University of Cambridge) for the Optimising Compilers course
    • special thanks to Domagoj Stolfa (Univ. Cambridge, for initiating this partnership

Required software for written commentary and homework

  • Visual Studio Code (
    • Markdown editing: ms-vscode.wordcount, DavidAnson.vscode-markdownlint
    • graph drawing, either:
      • Mermaid preview: bierner.markdown-mermaid
      • Graphviz preview: tintinweb.graphviz-interactive-preview

Additional required software for project development

Author: Vedran Miletić