Computer code, like many things, decays after time. In programming, this is called “bit-rot.” Basically, as a program accumulates useless and outdated code over years of optimization, the program becomes almost useless.
Take Adobe, for example. After 25 years, Adobe’s Photoshop has accumulated a lot of code that requires optimization.
Code has to evolve along with the hardware that runs it, so bit-rot can occur even with relatively newer software. This means that every few years, Adobe has had to devote manpower to manually troubleshoot and patch unresponsive or otherwise unusable code.
Helium Rises Above Bit-Rot
“Helium” is a a program created by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) of MIT. Helium can “make updates in one day that would take human engineers upwards of three months,” says Saman Amarasinghe, MIT professor and CSAIL researcher. And it’s revolutionizing code optimization.
Helium overhauls code in hours (sometimes even minutes!) without any need for the original source code. Helium cuts down on the manpower needed to fix code, allowing engineers to focus on creating new code – saving companies millions in dollars and countless hours of work.
A system like this can help companies make sure that the next generation of code is faster.
– Saman Amarasinghe, MIT Professor
Re-optimized code replaces bit-rotted code in the Helium system, resulting in improved performance. The Helium system can also improve less optimized programs, in some cases by 400 and 500 percent.
“A system like this can help companies make sure that the next generation of code is faster,” says Amarasinghe.
Get Inside Computer Programs
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