[Baypiggies] How to Implement Compilers and Interpreters

Andrew Akira Toulouse andrew at atoulou.se
Thu Jul 31 11:34:30 CEST 2008

I'm curious as well. I took CS164 at Berkeley this last semester, and  
while I think my Stanford colleague puts too little value on theory,  
he makes some valid points. As I am typing from my phone I won't go  
into detail, but I think depending on the problem there are a number  
of approrpriate solutions we can suggest. I also believe I have a  
decent PDF on compilation laying around; email me off-list and I'll  
get back to you on that, if you want it.

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 31, 2008, at 1:59 AM, Stephen McInerney  
<spmcinerney at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Well I took Stanford CS143, so here's my modest take:
> - your task depends largely on whether you're tackling some  
> arbitrary syntax
> someone just made up, or parsing some well-known standardized language
> (e.g. Scheme, Lisp, Haskell, C etc.).
> (FYI gcc uses an ad-hoc parser under-the-hood for raw speed, not a  
> yacc-generated one.)
> - the dragon book (Aho, Sethi, Ullman) is, if I may say, pretty awful,
> a bad read, clunky typesetting, inadequate examples (Pascal  
> fragments?)
> and dwells morbidly on parsing theory. All you really need to know  
> in the real
> world is that yacc/bison will handle SLR(1) grammars, which are the  
> only ones
> we care about, and we handle ambiguity in expressions via operator
> precedence and associativity rules.
> Corollary: if yacc rejects your grammar and you can't fix it, it  
> ain't SLR(1).
> It seems like computer scientists love to go overboard on this  
> theory, NFAs and so on.
> You only need an appreciation of how they work, and to familiarize  
> yourself
> with how yacc runs by trying to build a grammar for a subset of C  
> (or Scheme).
> - I am not aware of any more approachable book, but in either case,
>  better than any book is to take Stanford CS143 via
>   Stanford Online, it runs almost every semester.
> If you're too busy to do the 4 programming exercises (which are the  
> most
> valuable part of the course), then just take it CR/NC or Audit.
> - I have no opinion on "Essentials of Programming Languages" (2nd ed),
> but from the reviews it sounds slightly better and does mention  
> Scheme.
> - Basically this is one of the those topics you will learn  
> infinitely more by doing
> than by reading. With any of these books, be prepared to speed-read or
> skim the hundreds of pages that are not directly relevant to your  
> needs.
> - If you get as far as code generation, you will come to detest  
> explicit
> pointers even more than you already do (not applicable to Scheme).
> PS Anyway, are you doing this as a learning exercise, or is there  
> genuinely no
> existing off-the-shelf open-source parser that will fit your needs?
> Regards,
> Stephen
> Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 01:23:58 -0700
> From: jjinux at gmail.com
> To: baypiggies at python.org
> Subject: [Baypiggies] How to Implement Compilers and Interpreters
> I'm looking for some advice implementing compilers and  
> interpreters.  If you know about such things, can you respond to my  
> blog post?
> http://jjinux.blogspot.com/2008/07/computer-science-how-to-implement.html
> Thanks,
> -jj
> -- 
> Lisp programmers know the value of everything, but the cost of  
> nothing...
> On my Lisp, '() costs 4 bytes.
> http://jjinux.blogspot.com/
> With Windows Live for mobile, your contacts travel with you. Connect  
> on the go.
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