Aussie academics receive IBM grants

Two Australian academics have been rewarded for their contributions to the open source Eclipse development framework.

Dr Anthony Sloane from Macquarie University in NSW, and Dr Stephen Blackburn from the ACT's Australian National University (ANU), received $US40,000 and $US20,000 respectively from IBM's Eclipse Innovation Grants Scheme.

Eclipse is an open source platform for building integrated development environments (IDEs). Run by a non-profit consortium, Eclipse has the support of major vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

The funding will help the academics continue contributing to related software projects, which will later be integrated into Eclipse.

Dr Sloane has worked on two tools for the Eclipse IDE: Noosa and Eli.

Noosa, a debugger for compiler development, is widely used by the research community.

The tool differs to typical debuggers that operate at source code level, according to Dr Sloane.

"Noosa says we want to debug our compiler at the level of the specifications developed," he said.

The other tool, Eli, is a compiler generation system, which was created about 15 years ago in the US, Dr Sloane said.

The free software project lets programmers write at a more abstract level.

"Eli can take a [programmer's] grammar description and turn it into a C program," he said.

In Canberra, Dr Blackburn will continue his work on Jikes RVM, a Java virtual machine that's written in Java.

The software was released to the open source community by IBM in 2000.

"Jikes RVM uses a special Java dialect to implement Java," said Dr Sloane, the only non-IBM member of the three-man steering committee.

The funding will allow Jikes developers to use Eclipse to develop, instead of using primitive tools, he said.

"Hopefully the memory management will work with Eclipse in a couple of months," Dr Blackburn said, "and the total package by the end of the calendar year".

Like his Sydney counterpart, Dr Blackburn has employed students to work on the software so it can be integrated with Eclipse.

Research students from both universities have made significant contributions to the respective tools over the years, according to the academics.

Both will be invited to present their work at an overseas Eclipse Innovation Workshop in October.

They were among 70 recipients across the globe that received IBM funding.

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