Re: Incomplete compiler? (Hans Aberg)
3 May 2002 15:53:16 -0400

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From: (Hans Aberg)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 3 May 2002 15:53:16 -0400
Organization: Mathematics
References: 02-04-147 02-04-156 02-05-005
Keywords: syntax, design
Posted-Date: 03 May 2002 15:53:16 EDT

The moderator opined:
>[More function names are fine, you can do that without adding random new
>syntax. The 1970s extensible languages let you define, say, your own
>mutant case statement which was just awful. -John]

The point is that the syntax that needs to be user added isn't random:

For example, LaTeX's syntax isn't based on TeX but on Pascal, which TeX
cannot check. The lack of proper syntax checks then poses proper with
other tools (like spell checkers) that are based on LaTeX's syntax.

Adding ones own syntax is what mathematicians do, even though the
syntactical variation is not as big as one might surmise. For example,
mots agree that multiplication should have higher precedence than
addition, even thou + and * may have widely varied meanings.

If one should have a computer program that should be able to include the
works of many different mathematicians and check their syntaxes and
perhaps even to some degree their semantics via those syntaxes, then that
computer language must have some kind of extensibility.

I figure that in the 1970'ies, one did not study that aspect;
extensibility was just a cool thing, not put into a proper context.
Therefore it was not meaningful in the fairly small computer languages of
those days.

    Hans Aberg * Anti-spam: remove "remove." from email address.
                                    * Email: Hans Aberg <>
                                    * Home Page: <>
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