a good introductory compiler book

24 Jul 1987 1739-EDT (Friday)

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a good introductory compiler book geoff@utstat.toronto.edu (1987-07-15)
Re: a good introductory compiler book steve@nuchat.UUCP (1987-08-06)
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From: geoff@utstat.toronto.edu
Date: 24 Jul 1987 1739-EDT (Friday)

I dislike most compiler books because they don't *explain* how parsing
techniques work, they merely prove that parsing techniques do indeed
work. I don't find this helpful. I find most of compiling to be fairly
straightforward, except for parsing, which had seemed to be black magic,
particularly since it is usually explained amid a flurry of Greek
letters. Aho, Hopcroft & Ullman are fairly bad at this, though the new
Dragon Book looks a little better at quick glance (I understand that the
proliferation of Greek is Ullman's influence; I have been told that Aho
and Hopcroft can explain in English).

Then I found a wonderful book: Understanding and Writing Compilers
by Richard Bornat, Macmillan Computer Science Series, ISBN 0 333 21732 2.
It's clearly not a book for compiler professionals, but it fills a
gap in the introductory compiler book market. I have yet to see another
book that *explains* how parsing works. (The book was printed on a
Diablo printer and so cannot contain any Greek.)

The major defect of the book is that its figures contain many errors,
but I have an on-line errata list (which I have been meaning to send the
author) which I will supply on request.

Geoff Collyer utzoo!utstat!geoff, utstat.toronto.{edu,cdn}!geoff

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