"New" Implementation of UNIX BC -- Rerelease Of C-BC

whopkins@alpha2.csd.uwm.edu (Mark William Hopkins)
27 Oct 2001 18:41:33 -0400

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"New" Implementation of UNIX BC -- Rerelease Of C-BC whopkins@alpha2.csd.uwm.edu (2001-10-27)
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From: whopkins@alpha2.csd.uwm.edu (Mark William Hopkins)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 27 Oct 2001 18:41:33 -0400
Organization: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Computing Services Division
Keywords: available
Posted-Date: 27 Oct 2001 18:41:33 EDT

      This is a re-release of version 1.1 of C-BC, originally released in
August of 1993. The source code, as well as numerous detailed notes on
the language and its implementation and underlying architecture may be
found under "The C-BC Programming Language" at


Also included there is a revised copy of a lengthy writeup on the language
which was originally posted here under

                                          August 26, 1995 comp.compilers
                  Subject: Case Study 2: How to build your own stack frames.

(1) Introduction To C-BC
      The standard BC language is a stack-based typeless calculator language
that works only with arbitrary precision numbers and one-dimensional arrays of
numbers and a very limited subset of C's syntax.

      C-BC is a major extension UNIX BC large enough that it comes close to
actually being a C interpreter. It incorporates a much larger subset of C
syntax, including an almost complete set of C statements and expressions, as
well as pointers and arrays of arbitrary dimension. There is functionality in
C-BC that is equivalent to or that surpasses most of the extensions of BC that
are in GNU-BC, even as of the latest 2001 release (except support for "small"
numeric types).

      The type system incorporated in this implementation of C-BC includes
support for complex numbers, finite Galois Fields, and limited support for
strings. Other implementations may be built on different type systems,
so that C-BC actually comprises a family of related languages.

(2) An Interpreter Without Control Flow
      The underlying architecture is a purely expressions-based language, with
no control flow. The language is infinitary and the expressions are
"rational". A rational expression may be infinite, but in such a way that
it consists of only a finite number of distinct subterms.

      At this level, there is no control flow. Nor would it be accurate to
say that there are "control flow expressions". Instead, the expression,
itself, IS the control flow. The happens through the correspondence:

Label/State <--> Subexpression
Goto <---------> Expression/Subexpression relation

The process of evaluating the infinitary expression is where one achieves
the virtual effect of control flow, yet the same reduction semantics
applies as would if the expressions were finite.

      Though C-BC is not actually a functional programming language, its
design bridges the gap between imperative and functional languages (in
a way that is distinct from and precedes by a few years the monad-based
"Imperative-Functional Language" paradigm) and sets the stage for new
languages which synthesize the two language families. Related articles
may be found under

        "Infinite Lambda Calculus, SEQCD & Imperative Functional Languages"

at the above-mentioned web site.

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