[llvm-dev] EuroLLVM BoF session: Compilers in education

Roel Jordans via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Tue Mar 1 08:27:40 PST 2016

Hi all,

I'm organizing a BoF session during the upcoming EuroLLVM developers 
meeting.  As the subject of this message already shows, this session 
will be on compilers in education.  I'm currently looking for both 
participants to the discussion and input for the actual program of the 
session.  I've already got some ideas which I'll introduce below.

At our university, we mostly come from a hardware and processor design 
background.  In the past we managed to design all kinds of crazy 
architecture ideas and, since we could program them by hand for our 
demonstration cases, we usually assumed that compilers could just 'do 
the trick'.  However, over the years we learned that this usually wasn't 
the case.  Looking around for what was actually being taught in compiler 
design we found that the course at our university had been teaching 
mostly the classical frontend parts (parsing etc) and was discontinued 
several years ago.  We decided it was time for us to step up and start 
teaching our students again what is and isn't possible in compilers. 
This time, also with extensions into the layers that relate more closely 
to the hardware so that the course would match our processor 
architecture backgrounds more closely.

In general, the contents of this course are more or less as follows:
  - Backend organization (optimizations, lowering, scheduling, register 
  - Code optimization (code analysis, loop optimizations, auto 
vectorization, Polly)
  - Using the compiler (writing optimizer friendly code)
  - Heterogeneous systems and high-level languages (OpenCL, OpenMP, Halide)

Looking further we also found that there aren't many courses that cover 
these topics (while we think that they should be interest to the 
companies hiring our students).

During this BoF, I plan to introduce the topics which we now cover in 
our course and the assignments that we give to our students to go with that.

My long term goal is to make most of the materials for this course 
available to interested parties.  One idea was to transform this into 
some kind of MOOC structure when after we get the lectures tested on our 
own students (currently there are some 70 students attending this 
course).  We've already automated much of the testing and grading for 
the exercises (though improvement is still possibly there).

So, my questions to you:
- Would you be interested in attending this session?
- For industry people:
   * what kind of skills would you like your future (or current) 
employees to have?
   * do you have any educational materials you would be willing to share?
- For other educators: what kind of topics do you cover in your lectures?
   * would you be interested in presenting something about your approach?
- And in general: are there any other things you think that should be 

Ok, that's it for now.  I've already heard from a few people that they 
would be interested but I'd love to get some more input!

Best regards,
  Roel Jordans

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