The maturation of the Web platform has given rise to sophisticated Web applications such as 3D visualization, audio and video software, and games. With that, efficiency and security of code on the Web has become more important than ever. WebAssembly is a portable low-level bytecode that addresses these requirements by offering a compact representation, efficient validation and compilation, and safe execution with low to no overhead. It has recently been made available in all major browsers. Rather than committing to a specific programming model, WebAssembly is an abstraction over modern hardware, making it independent of language, hardware, and platform and applicable far beyond just the Web. WebAssembly is the first mainstream language that has been designed with a formal semantics from the start, finally utilizing formal methods that have matured in programming language research over the last four decades.
WebAssembly (or "Wasm" for short) addresses the problem of safe, fast, portable low-level code on the Web. Previous attempts, from ActiveX to Native Client to asm.js, have fallen short of properties that such a low-level code format should have:
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