Opening Keynote: Make Simple Tasks Simple!
by Bjarne Stroustrup
C++ faces two challenges: Helping programmers address the most demanding tasks in terms of performance, scale, and dependability. It must also help programmers be productive writing ordinary maintainable code. There is much more “ordinary code” than there is performance-critical code. Thus, C++ must make simple tasks simple while not getting in the way of tuning software for the last byte and last cycle where that’s necessary. This talk focuses on what C++11 and C++14 offer to simplify programming: auto, range-for loops, move semantics, futures, concepts, and more. However, the focus is not primarily on language features: the key is programming: how can we write better, more readable, efficient, and more maintainable code? If you think that the essence of C++ is clever pointer manipulation and huge class hierarchies, you may be in for a few surprises.
C++ on Mars: Incorporating C++ into Mars Rover Flight Software
by Dr. Mark Maimone
One of the more challenging aspects of developing flight software (FSW) for NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) and Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover was how to enable them to drive themselves safely through unknown Martian terrain. When the MER mission was approved in the year 2000, JPL researchers had already demonstrated that capability on prototype rovers using software written primarily in C++ on a VxWorks realtime O/S platform with shared memory. So when asked to incorporate that capability into the MER vehicles which also relied on a similar VxWorks realtime O/S, the team concluded it would be safest and most expedient to incorporate the already field-tested C++ software. But that presented a challenge, since at that point all rover FSW development was mandated to be done mainly in the C programming language.
In this talk we present some of the challenges we faced and solutions we found in deploying C++ onto the Mars Rovers. For example, dynamic allocation was initially precluded, but development of a specialized memory allocator (using the C++ “placement new” operator) enabled us to incorporate it safely into the flight system. We will discuss what aspects of C++ were incorporated, what simulation environments aided development, describe some of the tools used to validate system behavior, and explain how our success using C++ for the implementation of autonomous navigation on MER has influenced future FSW efforts.
Data-Oriented Design and C++
by Mike Acton
The transformation of data is the only purpose of any program. Common approaches in C++ which are antithetical to this goal will be presented in the context of a performance-critical domain (console game development). Additionally, limitations inherent in any C++ compiler and how that affects the practical use of the language when transforming that data will be demonstrated.