Rakudo also got two new small-scale optimizations last month: junction rewriting and constant folding. The former by a relative new contributor (who started submitting the first small Rakudo patches less than a year ago, and only started with slightly larger patches this year), and the latter took me only a few hours of work.
In my humble opinion, the encouraging thing is not the fact of the optimizations themselves, but that they are written in a subset of Perl 6, and thus accessible to contributors who don't have mad compiler writing skills, nor are intimately familiar with memory and cache models and other low-level details.
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