Posts Tagged ‘ parser

Compiler Tutorial, part 1 – Introduction and Grammars

Rough few weeks – sorry for no post. But here’s something that people might find useful.

This semester at Penn, I’m taking a compilers course (CIS341). It’s been a blast – we’re developing a compiler for a language called OAT (as in Quaker Oats) that’s ‘objects, arithmetic, and types’. Due Monday is the object compiler, and the language is done in its entirety.The last two projects concern optimizations (register allocation, constant propagation, etc).

Writing compilers, for anybody who hasn’t done it before, involves a tremendous amount of work. Because compilers have always seemed like magic to me, I’m going to attempt to demystify them.

This will be a several-part tutorial written as I have time, so check back often.

I will assume you know something about programming, and are willing to learn a crash-course in formal languages, but I’ll try to keep it simple. By the end, we’ll have a reasonably interesting compiler for basically the language I’m writing now. The only thing is, we’ll do it in C instead of OCaml, which is what I’m using now. This is partly because most compilers are written in C, or their own languages, and partly because I don’t want to enable cheating.

Alright! Here we go. To start, we need to discuss formal languages – what they are, what they can do, and how to work with them. Next time, we’ll get into actual code. Read more