Re: Why context-free?

Robert A Duff <>
7 Oct 2005 21:51:05 -0400

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From: Robert A Duff <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 7 Oct 2005 21:51:05 -0400
Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA
References: 05-10-053
Keywords: design, parse, comment
Posted-Date: 07 Oct 2005 21:51:05 EDT (Nick Maclaren) writes:

> I have been thinking about a programming language, and have good
> reasons to abandon context-free grammars completely.

This portends a delicious language-design discussion, if our esteemed
moderator allows such (as opposed to pure compiler-specific
discussions). ;-)

I favor context-free grammars because I understand them, both as a user
of a language, and as a compiler writer.

Now, please tell us, why you "have good reasons to abandon" them
"completely". Tell us the good reasons. And the alternative.

> [The best argument I've heard is that to a first approximation, CFGs
> match languages that people can understand. Of course, since I write
> everything in perl these days, I suppose I don't believe that, either.
> -John]

Sorry, but I'm not impressed with Perl.

- Bob
[Your moderator is happy to have language design discussions insofar as
they relate to the way that compilers have to deal with the language.
As the FAQ says, once it degnerates into where the semicolon goes, it's

Perl's syntax is gross, but it's the most productive language I've
ever used, partly because of its nice complete garbage collected type
system, partly because of the vast set of application libraries
available. -John]

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