Re: compiler writing as a career?

Sandra Loosemore <>
6 Jun 2004 21:35:14 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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compiler writing as a career? (Brandon J. Van Every) (2004-06-06)
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From: Sandra Loosemore <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 6 Jun 2004 21:35:14 -0400
Organization: Frogs On Ice,
References: 04-06-015
Keywords: jobs, practice
Posted-Date: 06 Jun 2004 21:35:14 EDT

"Brandon J. Van Every" <> writes:

> I'd like to ask some career-oriented questions about compiler writing,
> to see if this is a good direction for me to go in, given my personal
> sensibilities.
> [snip]
> I have no interest in working on C++, Java, or C# in any capacity,
> besides migrating away from them. I am curious to what degree there's
> a market for "more productive, more optimized" higher level language
> design and implementation. Who out there has got bucks, and is
> willing to fork over money to move on? What does one have to do to
> secure such jobs and contracts?
> Or is the compiler design market a ghetto of marginally better C++
> compilers?

It seems like hardly anybody outside of academia is working on
designing or implementing new high-level languages any more. I've
only seen a few ads lately for jobs involving domain-specific
languages (MatLab, OpenGL shading language, etc). Most of the
compiler jobs that are out there nowadays are for back end work, like
porting GCC to embedded processors, or performance tuning on existing
back ends. This kind of work is generally not tied to any particular
high-level language; instead, you need to know about general compiler
concepts and the internals of whatever implementation you're working
with, be familiar with graph algorithms, and become an expert on the
architecture you're targeting. If you browse through the job postings
on or in the comp.compilers archives, you'll get the
general picture of where the jobs are and what skills are in demand.

My perspective on this? I'm an experienced compiler hacker currently
looking for front end or runtime library work. I got kind of burned
out on back end work in my last job and don't really want to do that
any more. My other chief aversion is to Windows rather than any
particular programming language. :-P


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