A zero cost abstraction?—Josh Peterson

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Safe and performant?

A zero cost abstraction?

by Josh Peterson

From the article:

Recently Joachim (CTO at Unity) has been talking about “performance by default”, the mantra that software should be as fast as possible from the outset. This is driving the pretty cool stuff many at Unity are doing around things like ECS, the C# job system, and Burst (find lots more about that here).

One question Joachim has asked internally of Unity developers is (I’m paraphrasing here): “What is the absolute lower bound of time this code could use?” This strikes me as a really useful way to think about performance. The question changes from “How fast is this?” to “How fast could this be?”. If the answers to those two questions are not the same, the next question is “Do we really need the additional overhead?”

Another way to think about this is to consider the zero-cost abstraction, a concept much discussed in the C++ and Rust communities. Programmers are always building abstractions, and those abstractions often lead to the difference between “how fast it is” and “how fast it could be”. We want to provide useful abstractions that don’t hurt performance...

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