New approach to programming may boost 'green' computing

Mar 24, 2011
Binghamton University computer scientist, Yu David Liu, has an interest in "green" software development. Credit: Jonathan Cohen

A Binghamton University computer scientist with an interest in "green" software development has received the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award for young researchers.

Yu David Liu received a five-year, $448,641 grant from the NSF's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. The highly competitive grants support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. He also recently received a $50,000 grant from for a related research project.

Computers and electronic devices, ranging from smartphones to servers, consume a steadily growing amount of energy. In recent years, have developed an interest in paring back this consumption, though generally they've approached the challenge through modifying hardware or perhaps operating systems. Liu plans to tackle the problem by considering how programmers can create more energy-efficient software.

" is an activity that should come from many layers," said Liu, who plans to build energy-related parameters into a programming language.

A change at that level would permit and encourage programmers to express their energy-saving intentions directly when software is developed.

"Saving energy is often a trade-off," Liu said. "Sometimes you're willing to run your program slower so your cell phone battery can last longer."

For such settings — often specific to the nature of the applications — no automated algorithms know as much as programmers.

"Programs today are not just 50 lines of code," Liu said.

They have often grown to be thousands or even millions of lines long. He hopes to employ advanced programming language technologies known as "type systems" to answer questions such as

"What is the energy-consumption pattern of a large , given the consumption patterns of its fragments?" and "Do programmers have conflicted views of the energy-consumption patterns of their software?"

Energy-efficient solutions at the level of programming languages also enjoy a high degree of platform independence, meaning they can have an impact all along the spectrum from phones to servers.

"In an era when new platforms are introduced every year," Liu explained, "an approach that's platform-independent would be beneficial because it can be applied more broadly."

None of the mainstream computer languages supports energy-aware programming, he said. However, language designers often create a blueprint that can be extended. Java, for instance, could be extended as EnergyJava and remain 90 percent the same. Such moderate changes would make it possible for programmers to adopt it relatively easily.

There isn't much history in this area, Liu said, so it's hard to say how quickly industry will react to the development of an energy-efficient language. However, new language designs have the potential to influence how millions of programmers think.

"I think every researcher wants to make the world better, and we just put it into our own perspective," he said. "Sometime in the Computer future, every Science 101 class may include a lecture or two on energy-aware programming. As an educator, I'm excited about helping to ensure that next-generation are green-conscious from the beginning of their careers."

Explore further: Ant behavior might shed insight on problems facing electronics design

Provided by Binghamton University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

C++ celebrates its 25th anniversary

Oct 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Oct. 14 marked the 25th anniversary of the commercial release of the programming language C++, which was designed and implemented by Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup, Distinguished Professor and College ...

Can't Make it to a Meeting? Send a Computer Instead

Aug 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you’ve ever wished you had an assistant to attend meetings with you, take notes and produce a concise summary, then you’ll be pleased to know that UT Dallas computer scientist Yang ...

Software 'Chipper' Speeds Debugging

Oct 01, 2007

Computer scientists at UC Davis have developed a technique to speed up program debugging by automatically "chipping" the software into smaller pieces so that bugs can be isolated more easily.

Google Go gets going (w/ Video)

Nov 11, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Google has introduced its new experimental programming language Go, which aims to combine speedy application development through simplified coding with high-speed program execution.

Recommended for you

Saving lots of computing capacity with a new algorithm

Oct 29, 2014

The control of modern infrastructure such as intelligent power grids needs lots of computing capacity. Scientists of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg have ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Noumenon
5 / 5 (43) Mar 24, 2011
lol
AngryMoose
not rated yet Mar 25, 2011
Hahaha - it's not like we make the OS do things it doesn't have to on purpose. I don't let my programs complete their tasks then stick a nice big loop in there so the system can't idle afterwards.

If you quantify a programs impact on the environment you can bet it won't be long before fines and taxes are imposed on how green your code is.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.