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Brainfuck Optimization

An examination of brainfuck compiler optimization techniques.

This stuff resulted in a blog post that will at some point be published somewhere. Maybe.

Sample programs

To meaningfully evaluate the impact different optimization techniques can have on performance, we need a set of brainfuck programs that are sufficiently non-trivial for optimization to make sense.


Awib, by yours truly, is a brainfuck compiler written in brainfuck. It has a bunch of bells and whistles and is, in my highly biased opinion, awesome. In our benchmarks we run awib-0.4 with itself as input using the lang_java backend. In other words: it compiles itself from brainfuck into the Java programming language.


The perhaps most useful brainfuck program I've ever seen is Brian Raiter's factor.b. A brainfuck implementation of coreutil's factor utility, factor.b breaks arbitrarily large integers into the prime factors. In our case we run it with the number 133333333333337 as input, which factors into 397, 1279 and 262589699.


Erik Bosman's mandelbrot implementation generates a 128x48 ascii graphics mandelbrot fractal. The program appears to have been generated using CPP macros, as opposed to being fully "hand-written" in brainfuck. It accepts no input and is run accordingly in our benchmarks.


Similar to the mandelbrot implementation, Clifford Wold's towers of hanoi solver was implemented using a higher-level language, which was then compiled into brainfuck code. It offers snazzy visualizations on VT100 terminals. No input required here either.


Daniel Cristofani's dbfi is a brainfuck interpreter written in brainfuck. In our benchmark we run it with a very special input: we let it interpret a copy of itself, which in turn interprets a dummy program called hi123. This somewhat confusing setup is sometimes referred to as sisihi123 and appears to first have been used by Oleg Mazonka when benchmarking his interpreter, bff4.


A dummy program that does nothing useful but takes quite a while to terminate. Like the sisihi123 combo, long.b also appears to have been created by Mazonka for benchmarking purposes.

Scripts : An optimizing brainfuck-to-C compiler : Silly little script that produces some simple code stats for a brainfuck program : Runs the optimizer and analyzer on all brainfuck programs. Produces pretty graphs with gnuplot.


$ bash

Produces pretty graphs in png files.


"Research" on how to best optimize brainfuck code.






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