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ABIs, linkers and other animals

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A robust understanding of certain instruction set architectures and programming languages is beginning to take shape. However, some murkier bits of infrastructure are equally important in real software, yet have received little attention. I will give an accessible introduction to three such murky areas: application binary interfaces (the basis of separate compilation), linking (what happens after compilation) and debugging (what happens after linking and execution!). The emphasis will be identifying a number of problems suffered in real software as a consequence of poor specification or poor tooling in these areas, where these problems could perhaps be helped using a more rigorous approach. My hope is that the content will be accessible to anyone vaguely familiar with the C programming language.

This talk is part of the Semantics Lunch (Computer Laboratory) series.

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