Incremental analysis of real programming languages

Tim A. Wagner, Susan L. Graham
1997 SIGPLAN notices  
A major research goal for compilers and environments is the automatic derivation of tools from formal specifications. However, the formal model of the language is often inadequate; in particular, LR(k) grammars are unable to describe the natural syntax of many languages, such as C ++ and Fortran, which are inherently non-deterministic. Designers of batch compilers work around such limitations by combining generated components with ad hoc techniques (for instance, performing partial type and
more » ... e analysis in tandem with parsing). Unfortunately, the complexity of incremental systems precludes the use of batch solutions. The inability to generate incremental tools for important languages inhibits the widespread use of language-rich interactive environments. We address this problem by extending the language model itself, introducing a program representation based on parse dags that is suitable for both batch and incremental analysis. Ambiguities unresolved by one stage are retained in this representation until further stages can complete the analysis, even if the resolution depends on further actions by the user. Representing ambiguity explicitly increases the number and variety of languages that can be analyzed incrementally using existing methods. To create this representation, we have developed an efficient incremental parser for general context-free grammars. Our algorithm combines Tomita's generalized LR parser with reuse of entire subtrees via state-matching. Disambiguation can occur statically, during or after parsing, or during semantic analysis (using existing incremental techniques); program errors that preclude disambiguation retain multiple interpretations indefinitely. Our representation and analyses gain efficiency by exploiting the local nature of ambiguities: for the SPEC95 C programs, the explicit representation of ambiguity requires only 0.5% additional space and less than 1% additional time during reconstruction.
doi:10.1145/258916.258920 fatcat:tk4or7kxrnejjlqqtru6tzsnae