Fortress project calls it quits due to lack of a decent VM

I thought this would be of interest to LLVM developers: The Fortress project, which was an attempt to create a very advanced language with implicit parallelism, parametric polymorphic types and many other cutting edge language features, has announced that they are winding down the project. What I found very interesting was that one of the reasons they gave was the lack of a suitable execution environment:

“…over the last few years, as we have focused on implementing a compiler targeted to the Java Virtual Machine, we encountered some severe technical challenges having to do with the mismatch between the (rather ambitious) Fortress type system and a virtual machine not designed to support it (that would be every currently available VM, not just JVM). In addressing these challenges, we learned a lot about the implications of the Fortress type system for the implementation of symmetric multimethod dispatch, and have concluded that we are now unlikely to learn more (in a research sense) from completing the implementation of Fortress for JVM.”

(Full article at

This is particularly interesting to me, because in my own work on experimental languages I’ve run into many of the same brick walls as they have.

One sort of questions why a company the size of Oracle, working with DARPA funding, wouldn’t have the resources to design the virtual machine they required for the project… although reading the article they never do quite say that Fortress is being put down… just that the research group is winding down on it, the JVM target work isn’t going to be completed, and the current open source source code will remain open source.


It's more likely that internal R&D funds are prioritized. Resources are
not infinite. For example, if fixing geospatial indexing in a
distributed cluster needs R&D money, it's more likely to get that
funding than a language with limited adoption prospects.

IIRC, Fortress and Chapel were both funded through the DARPA HPCS
program. HPCS wrapped up a few years ago now. So, the "working with
DARPA" part is only partially factual. I also seem to recall that
Fortress did not survive a down-select in the first phase of HPCS and
that Sun had to go it alone to continue the project.


Now, who will be crazy enough to continue a project (open source or
not) that has being tainted by Oracle?