The Higgs compiler is written in the D language and is available under the BSD license. It was created by Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert as part of her doctoral research work in computer science at the Université de Montréal.
According to Chevalier-Boisvert, Higgs uses an architecture unlike those of other JIT compilers, such as Google's V8 -- the basis for Node.js -- Mozilla's SpiderMonkey, or Apple's LLVM-backed FTLJIT project.
"[Those other engines] are all multitiered architectures," Chevalier-Boisvert said in an email interview. "They incorporate multiple JIT compilers with different levels of optimization. The highest optimization level usually relies on type feedback and type analysis to extract type information. These type analyses can be very expensive in terms of running time and memory usage."
Higgs, by contrast, uses a much smaller and simpler architecture with a single level of optimization and no type analysis as is conventionally implemented. Instead, type information is accumulated as machine-level code and is generated by the compiler.
Chevalier-Boisvert was pleased to see new languages with a solid grounding in type theory applied to systems programming for the sake of safety. "C++ is an aging language with many issues," she noted, "and it's good that there are efforts to make a better replacement, such as Rust, D, and Nimrod."