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A compiler is a specialized computer program that converts a program written in a higher-level language, such as C++ or Java, into machine language, so that processors can understand it. With the increasing power of computers, compilers are becoming more complex in order to apply a variety of optimization techniques to improve the performance of programs, enabling them to execute faster, consume less power and memory, etc.

For the past several years, Prasad Kulkarni and his advisor-mentor Dr. David Whalley, chair of the Computer Science department, have been researching Optimization Phase Ordering. Prasad explains, "Due to various interactions and dependencies between the different optimizations, the order in which they are performed can significantly affect the performance of the executed program. Thus, to get the best performance, it is essential that we find the best ordering of optimization phases. This gets complicated when there are in excess of 15 to 30 different phases possible for different programs. Using various strategies, we are now able to find the best order of applying optimization phases for most of the programs that we studied in an automated manner, and in time that is acceptable to most people interested in a solution."

They have presented their work at conferences and in journals of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers). Prasad says, "The success of our research has been fortunate." Because of his dedication, IBM awarded him its Ph.D. Fellowship for 2006, a first for a student in the Department of Computer Science.

Prasad, who hails from India, says, "America and India are different in many aspects, but we share the same core values about freedom, democracy, and the right to practice your own religion. Indians can learn a lot from America—competition, efficiency, access to common amenities, and far-sightedness regarding higher education—but overall India is an enlightening place." He becomes sad when viewing the inaccurate portrayal in movies and television—Maharajas riding on elephants, snake charmers, and people wearing turbans. Just as Prasad learned from America, he says, others could learn from India.

"I have been taught more than money could buy, and I hope to apply the good from both cultures to my life."

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