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Compiler-compiler

From Academic Kids

A compiler-compiler or parser generator is a utility for generating the source code of a parser, interpreter or compiler from an annotated language description in the form of a grammar (usually in BNF) plus code that is associated with each of the rules of the grammar that should be executed when these rules are applied by the parser. These pieces of code are sometimes referred to as semantic action routines since they define the semantics of the syntactic structure that is analysed by the parser. Depending upon the type of parser that should be generated, these routines may construct a parse tree (or AST), or generate executable code directly.

Contents

History

The first Compiler Compiler to use that name was written by Tony Brooker in 1960 and was used to create compilers for the Atlas computer at the University of Manchester, including the Atlas Autocode compiler. However it was rather different from modern compiler compilers, and today would probably be described as lying somewhere between a highly customisable generic compiler and an extensible-syntax language. The name 'compiler compiler' was far more appropriate for Brooker's system than it is for most modern compiler compilers, which are more accurately described as mere parser generators. It is almost certain that the Compiler Compiler name has entered common use due to Yacc rather than Brooker's work being remembered.

Other examples of parser generators in the yacc vein are Coco/R, [| CUP (http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~appel/modern/java/CUP/)], GNU bison, Eli, FSL, META 5, MUG2, Parsley, Pre-cc, SableCC, JavaCC and MixedCC.

Types of compiler-compilers

Compiler Compilers exist in many flavors, including bottom-up rewrite machine generators (see JBurg (http://jburg.sourceforge.net/)) used to tile syntax trees according to a rewrite grammar for code generation, and attribute grammar parser generators (see Antlr (http://www.antlr.org/) that can be used for simultaneous type checking, constant propogation, and more during the parsing stage.

See also

External links

  • Brooker Autocodes (http://www.computer50.org/mark1/gethomas/manchester_autocodes.html)

References

This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL.
de:Parsergenerator
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