System programming in Rust: Beyond safety

Abhiram Balasubramanian, Marek S. Baranowski, Anton Burtsev, Aurojit Panda, Zvonimir Rakamarić, Leonid Ryzhyk

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Rust is a new system programming language that offers a practical and safe alternative to C. Rust is unique in that it enforces safety without runtime overhead, most importantly, without the overhead of garbage collection. While zero-cost safety is remarkable on its own, we argue that the superpowers of Rust go beyond safety. In particular, Rust's linear type system enables capabilities that cannot be implemented efficiently in traditional languages, both safe and unsafe, and that dramatically improve security and reliability of system software. We show three examples of such capabilities: zero-copy software fault isolation, efficient static information flow analysis, and automatic checkpointing. While these capabilities have been in the spotlight of systems research for a long time, their practical use is hindered by high cost and complexity. We argue that with the adoption of Rust these mechanisms will become commoditized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-99
Number of pages6
JournalOperating Systems Review (ACM)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 11 2017
Event6th Brazilian Symposium on Computing System Engineering, SBESC 2016 - Joao Pessoa PB, Brazil
Duration: Nov 1 2016Nov 4 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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