Most Influential OOPSLA Paper Award

Presented annually to the author(s) of a paper presented at the OOPSLA held 10 years prior to the award year. The award includes a prize of $1,000 to be split among the authors of the winning paper. The papers are judged by their influence over the past decade.

Selection Committee

The award given in year N is for the most influential paper presented at the conference held in year N-10. The selection committee consists of the following members:

  • the current SIGPLAN Chair, ex officio,
  • a member of the SIGPLAN EC appointed as committee Chair by the SIGPLAN Chair,
  • the General Chair and Program Chair for OOPSLA N-10,
  • the General Chair and Program Chair for OOPSLA N-1, and
  • a member of the SIGPLAN EC appointed by the committee Chair.

The SIGPLAN Chair shall adjudicate conflicts of interest, appointing substitutes to the committee as necessary. The Most Influential OOPSLA Paper Award instituted in


To cover the years from the inception of OOPSLA (1986) to 1996, the OOPSLA steering committee formed a committee to select the three most influential OOPSLA papers that were presented during that time period. The three most influential OOPSLA papers from 1986-1996:


2012 Emery Berger, Benjamin G. Zorn, and Kathryn S. McKinley

(for 2002) Reconsidering Custom Memory Allocation


Custom memory management is often used in systems software for the purpose of decreasing the cost of allocation and tightly controlling memory footprint of the software. Until 2002, it was taken for granted that application-specific memory allocators were superior to general purpose libraries. Berger, Zorn and McKinley’s paper demonstrated through a rigorous empirical study that this assumption is not well-founded, and gave insights into the reasons why general purpose allocators can outperform handcrafted ones. The paper also stands out for the quality of its empirical methodology.

2010 Matthew Arnold, Stephen Fink, David Grove, Michael Hind, Peter F. Sweeney

(for 2000) Adaptive Optimization in the Jalapeño JVM


The 2000 OOPSLA paper “Adaptive Optimization in the Jalapeño JVM” describes the architecture of adaptive optimization in what is now known as the Jikes RVM (Research Virtual Machine), continuing a line of research in dynamic adaptive optimizing compilers including Self and Animorphic (later HotSpot). The novelty of this paper was its use of continuous sampling to obtain execution statistics for optimized as well as unoptimized code. Also, because Jikes RVM is written entirely in Java, the techniques apply not only to the application but also to the VM and its components. Follow-on work has used, refined, and extended upon this adaptive optimization infrastructure. The paper has inspired significant further innovation in dynamic profiling and remains a primary reference for its exposition of the basic ingredients of adaptive optimization for modern VM-based languages.

2009 Bowen Alpern, C. R. Attanasio, Anthony Cocchi, Derek Lieber, Stephen Smith, Ton Ngo, John J. Barton, Susan Flynn Hummel, Janice C. Shepherd, and Mark Mergen"

(for 1999) Implementing Jalapeño in Java,


The 1999 OOPSLA paper “Implementing Jalapeño in Java” describes how the authors implemented a Java Virtual Machine in the Java language. This system, which was eventually renamed the Jikes RVM and released to the public, enabled a whole range of academic and industrial research in virtual machines that would have been difficult or impossible otherwise. To this day, researchers successfully use the Jikes RVM as a platform for new investigations.

2008 David G. Clarke, John M. Potter, and James Noble

(for 1998) Ownership Types for Flexible Alias Protection


In their 1998 OOPSLA paper, “Ownership Types for Flexible Protection,” David Clark, John Potter, and James Nobel introduced the notion of “ownership types” to control inter-object aliasing statically, making it easier to reason about the dynamic topology of an object-oriented program. This work is part of the broader trend of trying to handle issues of isolation and modularity while retaining expressiveness.

2007 David Grove, Greg DeFouw, Jeffrey Dean, and Craig Chambers"

(for 1997) Call Graph Construction in Object-Oriented Languages


In their 1997 OOPSLA paper “Call Graph Construction in Object-Oriented Languages,” David Grove, Greg DeFouw, Jeffrey Dean, and Craig Chambers studied the existing algorithms for call-graph construction in object-oriented languages and brought them together into a unified framework. This framework is both theoretical, allowing the authors to compare the precision of the different algorithms, and also practical in that they built a single parameterized implementation of all of the algorithms. This implementation allowed them to conduct a thorough empirical evaluation of the algorithms, which had not been previously possible because the algorithms had been implemented separately and applied to different programs. In the process, the authors discovered and evaluated a few new variations suggested by their framework. This kind of consolidation paper is important for moving the field forward since it provides theoretical models to build on and performance evaluations as benchmarks. It has served as a model for later work of this kind.