Introduction to Programming Languages/Syntax Directed Translation

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Syntax Directed Translation[edit]

A compiler is a program that converts code written in a programming language into code written in a different programming language. Typically a compiler is used to convert code written in a high-level language into machine code. Like in the case of interpreters, grammars also provide the key data structure that a compiler uses to do its work. As an example, we will implement a very simple compiler that converts programs written in our language of arithmetic expressions to the polish notation. The attribute grammar that does this job can be seen below:

expr(L) --> mulexp(L1), [+], expr(L2), {append([+], L1, LX), append(LX, L2, L)}.
expr(L) --> mulexp(L).

mulexp(L) --> rootexp(L1), [*], mulexp(L2), {append([*], L1, LX), append(LX, L2, L)}.
mulexp(L) --> rootexp(L).

rootexp(L) --> ['('], expr(L), [')'].
rootexp(L) --> number(L).

number([N]) --> digit(N).
number([ND|LL]) --> digit(ND), number(LL).

digit(N) --> [0], {N is 0}
           ; [1], {N is 1}
           ; [2], {N is 2}
           ; [3], {N is 3}
           ; [4], {N is 4}
           ; [5], {N is 5}
           ; [6], {N is 6}
           ; [7], {N is 7}
           ; [8], {N is 8}
           ; [9], {N is 9}.

In this example we dump the transformed program into a list L. The append(L1, L2, LL) predicate is true whenever the list LL equals the concatenation of lists L1 and L2. The notation [ND|LL] implements the cons operation so common in functional programming. In other words, [ND|LL] represents a list that contains a head element ND, and a tail LL. As an example of use, the execution section below shows a set of queries using our new grammar, this time implemented in a file called compiler.pl:

?- consult(compiler).
true.

?- expr(L, [2, *, 1, 2, 3, +, 3, 2, 1], []).
L = [+, *, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1] ;
false.

?- expr(L, [2, *, '(', 1, 2, 3, +, 3, 2, 1, ')'], []).
L = [*, 2, +, 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1] ;
false.

Syntax Directed Interpretation · Syntax Directed Type Checking