Re: Compiler "Phonics"

"Alex K. Angelopoulos" <>
9 Mar 2003 17:30:14 -0500

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Re: Compiler "Phonics" (Alex K. Angelopoulos) (2003-03-09)
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From: "Alex K. Angelopoulos" <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 9 Mar 2003 17:30:14 -0500
Organization: Compilers Central
References: 03-02-136
Keywords: summary
Posted-Date: 09 Mar 2003 17:30:14 EST

Summary of some things I have found, as well as a response by Peter Jinks -
who, ironically, maintains one of the most useful web references to me on
general lexing/parsing/and grammar issues.
"Alex K. Angelopoulos" <aka(at)> wrote in message

> + What's the best on-line source for getting an understanding of the concepts
> behind BNF?

Peter's page:

There is some material on the softpanorama site:

and of course, you can run through back-listings here at:


> + Finally - I keep seeing Naur's name mangled into "Noir". Did
> someone make this into an 'in' joke, or am I misreading overeager
> spellchecking? :)

Some amusing examples from Pete:

Google throws up some examples -

One (deleted) page admits to making a joke of "Bacchus Noir"
seems to be making a systematic mistake, but I can't imagine why.
[which is where I first saw this - aka]

The Preliminary agenda, Vienna, September 9-13, 1996
for ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22 N2768 has both versions ("Backaus-Noir"!)

A student web page also makes this mistake project/final_report.html

[the rest of this is by me, referencing archive material - aka]

Actually, this is par for the course, since according to Naur BNF stands for
"Backus Normal Form":

cited in

But that usage itself is apparently technically incorrect, since grammars are
typically not 'normal' in a mathematical sense (there is usually more than 1
possible form for a grammar). That may be the point outlined by Knuth in
advocating "Backus Naur Form" here:

Knuth, D.E. "Backus Normal Form vs. Backus Naur Form," Comm. ACM 7:12, 735-736.

cited in

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