Debug-Edit-Compile cycle

What is known about the constraints of the Debug-Edit-Compile cycles that enable to modify and reload source code within a running debug session for several languages? Is there any research about this topic or is it plain arcane practical knowledge of compiler/runtime authors?

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Oooooh, my favorite hobbyhorse! :-)

I get to again recommend that people check out Acute, from Peter Sewell's group at Cambridge University. Sewell and his colleagues have done a great deal of work on the question of versioning and type-safe dynamic upgrade of running systems over the years. As Jeff Cutsinger has accurately pointed out, I bring it up a lot here; this should give you an idea about just how often. :-)