Re: Compiler Companies in Australia

Ray Dillinger <bear@sonic.net>
26 Jun 2005 11:20:05 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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Compiler Companies in Australia karendavis@campus.ie (Karen) (2005-05-20)
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Re: Compiler Companies in Australia rafe@cs.mu.oz.au (2005-05-21)
Re: Compiler Companies in Australia bear@sonic.net (Ray Dillinger) (2005-06-26)
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Re: Compiler Companies in Australia walter@bytecraft.com (Walter Banks) (2005-07-11)
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From: Ray Dillinger <bear@sonic.net>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 26 Jun 2005 11:20:05 -0400
Organization: Compilers Central
References: 05-05-187
Keywords: jobs

Karen wrote:
> I'm extremely interested in compilers and parsers and would like to
> continue in this area when I graduate. I'm heading to Australia for
> a years working holiday and I'm hoping that people will be able to
> give me a list of companies/organisations that build
> parsers/compilers. I'd like to get as much experience as I can in
> this area. I've googled and googled but haven't been able to come up
> with much.


It's very difficult to make money with compilers for mainstream
languages these days. Compilers were at the red-hot center of
interest by old-school hackers who felt that commercial software was
too expensive and that denying people free access to development tools
restricted their freedom of expression unduly, and have continued to
be at the red-hot center of interest by academics who develop new
optimization techniques; as a result free compilers were implemented
early, and have continued to undergo improvement constantly, and it's
extremely difficult nowadays for a commercial product to compete with
something like gcc on the basis of code quality. We've reached a
point in history, I think, where it is no longer possible for a
programming language to become popular unless there is a free (both in
expense and in availability of source code) compiler for it, and
companies therefore need other motives besides the ability to charge
money for the compiler to justify developing them.


That said, a fair number of companies produce compilers and
interpreters as part of support for other products (operating systems
or hardware, typically) or use specialized languages for in-house
development or specialized problem domains, and maintain a language
system of some kind in order to support that work. I've worked on
language systems at two such companies, and in both cases the
specialized languages (for expert systems development and
natural-language handling, respectively) had extensions and semantics,
particularly ways of handling ambiguity, not seen in the widely
studied languages we had in school.


If I wanted to work on compilers for mainstream languages, I'd be
looking for a job at AMD, Intel, Sun, or MS, who create chips and
operating systems that need compiler support.


If your aim is learning some stuff way off the beaten track in
compilers, I'd be looking at companies that maintain their own
language and development environments, like Naughty Dog (a game
company that maintains their own Lisp dialect), or who have
specialized tasks requiring specialized semantics or admitting wide
parallelism. Some examples of specialized tasks that often support
in-house language development are natural-language systems, expert
system development, and databases.


Bear





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