Hi,

Once in a while the question pops up if it is possible to compile Ruby 
code to native machine code. The answer has always been no. But I keep 
wondering how hard it would really be to make this possible.

Ruby is written in C. And when Ruby parses a Ruby script it converts 
each statement to a C call. Probably the same calls you can use on your 
own in a Ruby C extension. So why wouldn't it be possible to parse a 
Ruby script and convert all statements to Ruby C code and put it in a 
*.c file (instead of calling the Ruby C statements directly). This *.c 
file can then be compiled into machine code with a C compiler like gcc. 
If each *.rb file is converted to a C file it could be compiled to a 
dynamically loadable library which could then be used on require 
statements (just like regular Ruby C extensions).

What I mean is, this...

class Example
   def example
     puts "Hello World!"
   end
end

.... can also be written in C using the Ruby C API, am I right? So why 
wouldn't it be possible to convert all Ruby code to C code using the 
Ruby C API?

This would probably result in some performance gain (no need to parse 
the code anymore at run-time), but for some people more important, you 
can distribute your Ruby applications closed-source. In the future the 
performance gain maybe could be increased by performing special 
optimizations during the conversion process.

Am I right on this, or do I forget something important which makes the 
above quite hard to do?

With kind regards,

Peter