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Behavioral reflection is crucial to support for example functional upgrades, on-the-fly debugging, or monitoring critical applications. However the use of reflective features can lead to severe problems due to infinite metacall recursion even in simple cases. This is especially a problem when reflecting on core language features since there is a high chance that such features are used to implement the reflective behavior itself. In this paper we analyze the problem of infinite meta-object call recursion and solve it by providing a first class representation of meta-level execution: at any point in the execution of a system it can be determined if we are operating on a meta-level or base level so that we can prevent infinite recursion. We present how meta-level execution can be represented by a meta-context and how reflection becomes context-aware. Our solution makes it possible to freely apply behavioral reflection even on system classes: the meta-context brings stability to behavioral reflection. We validate the concept with a robust implementation and we present benchmarks.
Slides from presentation at TOOLS 2008 Zuerich, 30.06.2008