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Chapter: Principles of Compiler Design - Code optimization

Optimization of Basic Blocks

There are two types of basic block optimizations. They are : Ø Structure-Preserving Transformations Ø Algebraic Transformations



There are two types of basic block optimizations. They are :

Ø     Structure-Preserving Transformations

Ø     Algebraic Transformations


Structure-Preserving Transformations:

The primary Structure-Preserving Transformation on basic blocks are:


Ø     Common sub-expression elimination

Ø     Dead code elimination

Ø     Renaming of temporary variables

Ø     Interchange of two independent adjacent statements.


Common sub-expression elimination:

Common sub expressions need not be computed over and over again. Instead they can be computed once and kept in store from where it’s referenced.




a: =b+c

b: =a-d

c: =b+c

d: =a-d


The 2nd and 4th statements compute the same expression: b+c and a-d


Basic block can be transformed to


a: = b+c

b: = a-d

c: = a

d: = b


Dead code elimination:


It is possible that a large amount of dead (useless) code may exist in the program. This might be especially caused when introducing variables and procedures as part of construction or error-correction of a program - once declared and defined, one forgets to remove them in case they serve no purpose. Eliminating these will definitely optimize the code.


Renaming of temporary variables:


A statement t:=b+c where t is a temporary name can be changed to u:=b+c where u is another temporary name, and change all uses of t to u. In this a basic block is transformed to its equivalent block called normal-form block.


Interchange of two independent adjacent statements:


• Two statements





can be interchanged or reordered in its computation in the basic block when value of t1 does not affect the value of t2.


Algebraic Transformations:


Algebraic identities represent another important class of optimizations on basic blocks. This includes simplifying expressions or replacing expensive operation by cheaper ones i.e. reduction in strength. Another class of related optimizations is constant folding. Here we evaluate constant expressions at compile time and replace the constant expressions by their values. Thus the expression 2*3.14 would be replaced by 6.28.

The relational operators <=, >=, <, >, + and = sometimes generate unexpected common sub expressions. Associative laws may also be applied to expose common sub expressions. For example, if the source code has the assignments


a :=b+c

e :=c+d+b


the following intermediate code may be generated: a :=b+c


t :=c+d e :=t+b



x:=x+0 can be removed

x:=y**2 can be replaced by a cheaper statement x:=y*y


The compiler writer should examine the language specification carefully to determine what rearrangements of computations are permitted, since computer arithmetic does not always obey the algebraic identities of mathematics. Thus, a compiler may evaluate x*y-x*z as x*(y-z) but it may not evaluate a+(b-c) as (a+b)-c.


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