Purdue University Graduate School
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Composable, Sound Transformations for Nested Recursion and Loops

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posted on 2023-07-26, 17:42 authored by Kirshanthan SundararajahKirshanthan Sundararajah


Programs that use loops to operate over arrays and matrices are generally known as regular programs. These programs appear in critical applications such as image processing, differential equation solvers, and machine learning. Over the past few decades, extensive research has been done on composing, verifying, and applying scheduling transformations like loop interchange and loop tiling for regular programs. As a result, we have general frameworks such as the polyhedral model to handle transformations for loop-based programs. Similarly, programs that use recursion and loops to manipulate pointer-based data structures are known as irregular programs. Irregular programs also appear in essential applications such as scientific simulations, data mining, and graphics rendering. However, there is no analogous framework for recursive programs. In the last decade, although many scheduling transformations have been developed for irregular programs, they are ad-hoc in various aspects, such as being developed for a specific application and lacking portability. This dissertation examines principled ways to handle scheduling transformations for recursive programs through a unified framework resulting in performance enhancement. 

Finding principled approaches to optimize irregular programs at compile-time is a long-standing problem. We specifically focus on scheduling transformations that reorder a program’s operations to improve performance by enhancing locality and exploiting parallelism. In the first part of this dissertation, we present PolyRec, a unified general framework that can compose and apply scheduling transformations to nested recursive programs and reason about the correctness of composed transformations. PolyRec is a first-of-its-kind unified general transformation framework for irregular programs consisting of nested recursion and loops. It is built on solid theoretical foundations from the world of automata and transducers and provides a fundamentally novel way to think about recursive programs and scheduling transformations for them. The core idea is designing mechanisms to strike a balance between the expressivity in representing the set of dynamic instances of computations, transformations, and dependences and the decidability of checking the correctness of composed transformations. We use multi-tape automata and transducers to represent the set of dynamic instances of computations and transformations, respectively. These machines are similar yet more expressive than their classical single-tape counterparts. While in general decidable properties of classical machines are undecidable for multi-tape machines, we have proven that those properties are decidable for the class of machines we consider, and we present algorithms to verify these properties. Therefore these machines provide the building blocks to compose and verify scheduling transformations for nested recursion and loops. The crux of the PolyRec framework is its regular string-based representation of dynamic instances that allows to lexicographically order instances identically to their execution order. All the transformations considered in PolyRec require different ordering of these strings representable only with additive changes to the strings. 

Loop transformations such as skewing require performing arithmetic on the representation of dynamic instances. In the second part of this dissertation, we explore this space of transformations by introducing skewing to nested recursion. Skewing plays an essential role in producing easily parallelizable loop nests from seemingly difficult ones due to dependences carried across loops. The inclusion of skewing for nested recursion to PolyRec requires significant extensions to representing dynamic instances and transformations that facilitate performing arithmetic using strings. First, we prove that the machines that represent the transformations are still composable. Then we prove that the representation of dependences and the algorithm that checks the correctness of composed transformations hold with minimal changes. Our new extended framework is known as UniRec, since it resembles the unimodular transformations for perfectly nested loop nests, which consider any combination of the primary transformations interchange, reversal, and skewing. UniRec opens possibilities of producing newly composed transformations for nested recursion and loops and verifying their correctness. We claim that UniRec completely subsumes the unimodular framework for loop transformations since nested recursion is more general than loop nests. 


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Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Milind Kulkarni

Additional Committee Member 2

Samuel Midkiff

Additional Committee Member 3

Xiaokang Qiu

Additional Committee Member 4

Benjamin Delaware