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In search of better legacy code migration

As the Defense Department weighs migrating legacy applications to programming languages that are more secure and easier to maintain, it must ensure automated solutions deliver the best chance of success to justify the migration costs.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is asking small businesses to submit proposals to its Lifting Legacy Code to Safer Languages program. LiLaCSL aims to not only develop tools and methodologies to migrate legacy C/C++ code to safer programming languages, but also ensure the code takes the fullest possible advantage of the target languages' security features.

Today’s approaches for automating legacy code migration fail to leverage the native safety features of the target language, according to DARPA, and attempts to optimize built-in data structures of target languages often produces sub-optimal code.

DARPA wants tools that will infer the intended patterns of well-designed C/C++ code style and then structure and map those implicit patterns to the target language, resulting in more secure code.

The Defense Department’s research are is particularly interested in proposals that take advantage of open source licensing, code development methodologies and community engagement to ensure their lifting technologies are future-proofed against changes in target languages.

Responses are due June 29. Read the full RFI here.

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