Implementing formal definitions: projects (Greg Michaelson)
Mon, 7 Feb 1994 11:46:51 GMT

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Greg Michaelson)
Keywords: summary, semantics
Organization: Dept of Comp & Elec Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 1994 11:46:51 GMT

2 responses so far, both on action semantics research at Aarhus University
in Denmark. Any more compiler/interpreter generator projects using formal
definitions out there?
                                            Greg Michaelson
I have, as part of my M.Sc dissertation, written a compiler generator based
on Mosses's Action Semantics. The main part of the generated compilers
consist of an action compiler written in C++. Performance of the
generated compilers is within a factor 2 of handwritten compilers for
similar languages.

An article summarizing my work is to be presented at the CC'94 conference
in Edinburgh in April.

A (URL) reference:
<a href="">here</a>

Peter Orbaek <> Phone: +45 89 42 32 23
Comp. Sci. Department of Aarhus University, Denmark.
                        ASD, The Action Semantic Description Tools

                                    Arie van Deursen (
                          Peter D. Mosses (

Action Semantics is a framework for describing the semantics of
programming languages [3, 5]. One of the main advantages of
Action Semantics over other frameworks is that it scales up
smoothly to the description of larger practical languages, such
as Standard Pascal [4]. An increasing number of researchers and
practitioners are starting to use action semantics in preference
to other frameworks.

The ASD tools include facilities for parsing, syntax-directed
(and textual) editing, checking, and interpretation of action
semantic descriptions. Such facilities significantly enhance
accuracy and productivity when writing large specifications, and
are also particularly useful for students learning about the
framework. The notation supported by the ASD tools is a direct
ASCII representation of the standard notation used for action
semantic descriptions in the literature, as defined in [3].
The ASD tools are implemented using the ASF+SDF system [1, 2].


[1] J. A. Bergstra, J. Heering, and P. Klint, editors. Algebraic
          Specification. ACM Press Frontier Series. The ACM Press in
          co-operation with Addison-Wesley, 1989.

[2] P. Klint. A meta-environment for generating programming
          environments. ACM Transactions on Software Engineering
          Methodology, 2(2):176--201, 1993.

[3] P. D. Mosses. Action Semantics, volume 26 of Cambridge
          Tracts in Theoretical Computer Science. Cambridge University
          Press, 1992.

[4] P. D. Mosses and D. A. Watt. Pascal action semantics.
          Version 0.6. Available by FTP from in
          pub/action/pascal, Mar. 1993.

[5] D. A. Watt. Programming Language Syntax and Semantics.
          Prentice-Hall, 1991.

Peter D. Mosses | Computer Science Department |
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ | Aarhus University | Phone: +45 8942 3188
new fax number | Ny Munkegade, Building 540 | Direct: +45 8942 3364
(since Nov 93) | DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark | Fax: +45 8942 3255

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