JavaScript-based Polaris — MIT’s New Code Makes Websites 34% Faster in Any Browser


polaris javascriptShort Bytes: To make our websites faster, researchers from MIT’s CSAIL Lab have written Polaris — a new JavaScript-based framework that loads webpages 34% faster. Polaris uses a detailed log of instructions using dependency trackers of a webpage and minimizes the number of round trips made to download that webpage’s components.

Every year, the internet connections are getting faster but it isn’t reflected in our web browsing speeds. Wondering why? The answer lies in the increasing complexity of websites that makes us wait ages before a webpage loads.

To tackle this frustrating problem, a group of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has found a new way to speed up the web. The most interesting part — it doesn’t ask you to increase the connection throughput or make changes in the fundamental code.

Polaris, written in JavaScript, this framework determines how to minimize the page load time by overlapping the objects being downloaded while fetching a webpage’s individual resources. In simpler words — as our webpages get more complex, they often need multiple trips that cause delay. The new approach minimizes the number of round trips, thus making our web a faster place.

How a browser loads webpages?

When you enter a URL in your web browser’s address bar and hit enter, the browser gathers tons of objects like HTML files, pictures, JavaScripts, and a lot more. The browser downloads everything, evaluates them and adds. Until a browser grabs the first object, it doesn’t know what are the dependent objects or what it’s going to encounter ahead.

Let me simplify things — Imagine you are visiting a new city and your don’t have any map. This forces you to travel on unnecessary zig-zag paths. If you are having a map, you know where to visit first and it reduces the overall travel time.

Polaris makes webpages faster by 34%

Polaris uses a detailed log of instructions (the city map) using “dependency trackers” for a webpage. As a result, a webpage is loaded more quickly. Polaris is more focused on complex websites with thousands of JavaScript-heavy objects.

The research paper on Polaris is authored by professor Hari Balakrishnan and graduate student Ameesh Goyal, as well as Harvard professor James Mickens.

This team has already tested Polaris on 200 different types of website, including Wikipedia,, and ESPN. If we talk about the results, a 34% improvement in speed is observed. This work will be presented later this week at the USENIX Symposium.

Polaris is written in JavaScript

Here’s the best part — Polaris is written in JavaScript, language of the web. What does it mean? It could be introduced to any website. It just needs to be running on the server and it’ll automatically make the webpages faster without any change in our web browsers.

For further enhancements, researchers hope that it becomes integrated into our web browsers as it will allow “additional optimizations that can further accelerate page loads.”

Did you find the concept of JavaScript-based Polaris interesting? Share your views in the comments section below.

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Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]
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