Linguistic reflection in Java

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Reflective systems allow their own structures to be altered from within. Here we are concerned with a style of reflection, called linguistic reflection, which is the ability of a running program to generate new program fragments and to integrate these into its own execution. In particular we describe how this kind of reflection may be provided in the compiler-based, strongly typed object-oriented programming language Java. The advantages of the programming technique include attaining high levels of genericity and accommodating system evolution. These advantages are illustrated by an example taken from persistent programming which shows how linguistic reflection allows functionality (program code) to be generated on demand (Just-In-Time) from a generic specification and integrated into the evolving running program. The technique is evaluated against alternative implementation approaches with respect to efficiency, safety and ease of use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1077
JournalSoftware: Practice and Experience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


  • cs.PL
  • D.1.0
  • Persistence
  • Language design
  • Object database
  • Reflection
  • Program generation


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