|understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers Mark.Felzer@gmail.com (Mark F.) (2006-04-21)|
|Re: understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Copeland) (2006-04-22)|
|Re: understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers cfc@shell01.TheWorld.com (Chris F Clark) (2006-04-23)|
|Re: understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers email@example.com (Max Hailperin) (2006-04-23)|
|Re: understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers DrDiettrich@compuserve.de (Hans-Peter Diettrich) (2006-04-23)|
|Re: understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers firstname.lastname@example.org (2006-04-28)|
|Re: understanding the intuition behind LL(k) parsers and LR(k) parsers email@example.com (2006-05-01)|
|From:||Max Hailperin <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||23 Apr 2006 10:01:04 -0400|
"Mark F." <Mark.Felzer@gmail.com> writes:
> Maybe you can help me visualize the basic idea behind the two
> approaches to AST tree generation....
Conceptually, both an LL parser and an LR parser maintain a stack of
grammar symbols, that is, a stack where each element is either a
nonterminal or a terminal. However, the meaning of that stack is
completely opposite in the two styles of parser, and so is the
combination of two operations used to update the stack.
In an LR parser, if you read the stack from bottom to top, you get a
summary of the input that has already been read. In an LL parser, if
you read the stack from top to bottom, you get a prediction of the
input that remains to be read. In both cases, when I say the stack is
a "summary," I mean that it may be at a relatively abstract level
because it can contain nonterminals rather than only terminals. For
example, if an LR stack contains
it means that the input that was already read consists of a left
parenthesis, some sort of Expr, and then a plus sign. This is an
abstract summary, because it doesn't specify which particular terminal
symbols were read that constituted the Expr. Similarly, if an LL
it means that the remaining input, which has not yet been read, is
expected to contain a plus sign, some sort of Expr, and then a right
parenthesis. Again, there is no specificity regarding what form the
Expr will take.
This is just the conceptual view; LR stacks in paricular actually
contain numeric "states", which are critical for understanding how the
parser efficiently decides on the next action to take, but which are
not critical for understanding the fundamental contrast between LL and
LR. Instead, a better next step would be to move from considering how
to read the stack to considering what the two actions available to the
parser are. For appreciating the LL/LR contrast, you can just assume
the appropriate action is magically chosen.
In an LR parser, the two possible actions are:
(1) Read in one more terminal symbol from the input; to maintain the
stack as a summary of the input that has been read, the terminal
symbol needs to be pushed onto the stack. This is called
"shifting" a symbol onto the stack.
(2) Reduce the summary that is on the stack to a more abstract one by
replacing the right-hand side of a production by the left-hand
side. For example, if there is a production Factor -> ( Expr )
and the stack is
then a reduction would summarize the "( Expr )" part more
concisely as being a Factor; this entails popping the top three
symbols off the stack and pushing the Factor on, yielding
which is still a summary of the same already-consumed input, just
a more abstract one.
Because of these two actions, the LR parser is also called a
In an LL parser, on the other hand, the actions are the opposite,
reflecting the oppositeness of what its stack means:
(1) If a terminal symbol is read in from the input, then the same
terminal symbol must be popped off from the top of the stack,
because the stack is a prediction of the remaining input. The
action here consists of confirming one symbol worth of that
(2) If instead the prediction is changed without reading input, this
happens by expanding out the prediction to a less abstract one
by replacing the left-hand side of a production by the
right-hand side. For example, considering again the production
Factor -> ( Expr ), an action could change the stack from just
so as to predict not just some sort of Factor followed by a
right parenthesis, but rather more specifically a left
parenthesis, Expr, and right parenthesis followed by a (further)
I like to think of an LL parser as a "confirm/expand" parser by
analogy with the "shift/reduce", though this nomenclature doesn't seem
to be standard.
I hope seeing the duality will help you understand the relationship
between these two parsing techniques.
Professor of Computer Science
Chair, Mathematics and Computer Science Department
Gustavus Adolphus College
800 W. College Ave.
St. Peter, MN 56082
[Nice explanation. Thanks! -John]
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