Lex&Yacc and Shostakovitch Symphony No. V

"Michael Glover" <glover@globalnet.co.uk>
4 May 1998 23:05:23 -0400

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Lex&Yacc and Shostakovitch Symphony No. V glover@globalnet.co.uk (Michael Glover) (1998-05-04)
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From: "Michael Glover" <glover@globalnet.co.uk>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 4 May 1998 23:05:23 -0400
Organization: Compilers Central
Keywords: history

Hi All - and particularly John Levine

I do hope you will forgive this (not too technical) contribution.

Whenever I hear about Lex&Yacc, I always think of Shostakovitch's
fifth symphony - his best I think.

Last year, reahearsing for an amateur performance of this piece,
there were several periods when we trombone players had little to
do. My neighbour, the bass-trombone player, a scientist like
myself, was reading what I thought, from glancing at its cover,
was an advanced novel about two birds called Lex and Yacc. I was
surprised to find it was a serious book about compiler compilers.
Conversation then turned to the problems of lexing and parsing and
I recalled the Compiler-compiler made byMiller, Brooker, Norris et
al. This team had written a Fortran V compiler for Manchester
University's Atlas 2 machine in the late 1960's. I used this
machine quite a lot in the '70s to design microwave components. We
often came across opaque "compiler-compiler" faults which were
completely baffling.

More recently, I had a problem requiring the translation of a
configuration file to an alternative form suiting a new computer
program. I recalled Shostakovitch, hummed the 2nd movement theme
and purchased the book. It is most appropriate and I found the
principles reasonably easy to apply to the problem.


Michael Glover
(Surrey, England. mailto:glover@globalnet.co.uk)

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