Response to compilers lecture. (Scott McLoughlin)
Thu, 12 May 1994 20:39:00 GMT

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Scott McLoughlin)
Keywords: courses
Organization: Sytex Communications, Inc
References: 94-05-018 94-05-028
Date: Thu, 12 May 1994 20:39:00 GMT


Here is a rather prosaic response to your query about what to offer in 6
hours of lecture on compilers.

Don't eat up too much time on parsing. Instead "dymistify" compilers by
giving a good overview of what sort of assembly language is produced by
various high level language constructs. Describe a simple stack based
calling convention. Describe the allocation of static/stack/heap data and
how indirection/indexing are accomplished. Etc.

It's not an _exciting_ approach, but it could be enough to arm students
against the problems they will face in the future as they face new and
strange compilers/debuggers/linkers. I do some training in C/C++ for
programmers experienced in other languages. Inevitably, I find myself
describing the operation of the compiler, assembler and linker; generating
and examining assembly output, etc. just to get at the semantics of C/C++.
It is amazing how many programmers treat their language as a set of "magic
incantations", and I find that this doesn't cut it for programming well in
C/C++ and Pascal.

Scott McLoughlin
Conscious Computing

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