Advertisement

Semantics First!

Rethinking the Language Design Process
  • Martin Erwig
  • Eric Walkingshaw
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6940)

Abstract

The design of languages is still more of an art than an engineering discipline. Although recently tools have been put forward to support the language design process, such as language workbenches, these have mostly focused on a syntactic view of languages. While these tools are quite helpful for the development of parsers and editors, they provide little support for the underlying design of the languages. In this paper we illustrate how to support the design of languages by focusing on their semantics first. Specifically, we will show that powerful and general language operators can be employed to adapt and grow sophisticated languages out of simple semantics concepts. We use Haskell as a metalanguage and will associate generic language concepts, such as semantics domains, with Haskell-specific ones, such as data types. We do this in a way that clearly distinguishes our approach to language design from the traditional syntax-oriented one. This will reveal some unexpected correlations, such as viewing type classes as language multipliers. We illustrate the viability of our approach with several real-world examples.

Keywords

Type Class Language Design Language Family Semantic Domain Language Operator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Erwig, M., Kollmansberger, S.: Probabilistic Functional Programming in Haskell. Journal of Functional Programming 16(1), 21–34 (2006)zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Erwig, M., Walkingshaw, E.: A DSL for Explaining Probabilistic Reasoning. In: Taha, W.M. (ed.) DSL 2009. LNCS, vol. 5658, pp. 335–359. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Erwig, M., Walkingshaw, E.: Visual Explanations of Probabilistic Reasoning. In: IEEE Int. Symp. on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, pp. 23–27 (2009)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Erwig, M., Walkingshaw, E.: The Choice Calculus: A Representation for Software Variation. ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (2011) (to appear)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Felleisen, M., Findler, R.B., Flatt, M.: Semantics Engineering with PLT Redex. MIT Press, Cambridge (2009)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fowler, M.: Domain-Specific Languages. Addison-Wesley Professional (2010)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Halpern, J., Pearl, J.: Causes and Explanations: A Structural-Model Approach, Part I: Causes. British Journal of Philosophy of Science 56(4), 843–887 (2005)MathSciNetzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hudak, P.: Modular Domain Specific Languages and Tools. In: IEEE 5th Int. Conf. on Software Reuse, pp. 134–142 (1998)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hudak, P.: Building Domain-Specific Embedded Languages. ACM Computing Surveys 28(4es), 196 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gibbons, J., de Moor, O. (eds.): The Fun of Programming. Palgrave MacMillan (2003)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kats, L.C.L., Visser, E., Wachsmuth, G.: Pure and Declarative Syntax Definition: Paradise Lost and Regained. In: ACM Int. Conf. on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications, pp. 918–932 (2010)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Klint, P., Lämmel, R., Verhoef, C.: Toward an Engineering Discipline for Grammarware. ACM Trans. Softw. Eng. Methodol. 14, 331–380 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Liang, S., Hudak, P., Jones, M.: Monad Transformers and Modular Interpreters. In: 22nd ACM Symp. on Principles of Programming Languages, pp. 333–343 (1995)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Merkle, B.: Textual Modeling Tools: Overview and Comparison of Language Workbenches. In: ACM Int. Conf. on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications, pp. 139–148 (2010)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mitchell, J.C.: Concepts in Programming Languages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Peyton Jones, S.L.: Haskell 98 Language and Libraries: The Revised Report. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pfeiffer, M., Pichler, J.: A Comparison of Tool Support for Textual Domain-Specific Languages. In: OOPSLA Workshop on Domain-Specific Modeling, pp. 1–7 (2008)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sheard, T.: Accomplishments and Research Challenges in Meta-Programming. In: Taha, W. (ed.) SAIG 2001. LNCS, vol. 2196, pp. 2–44. Springer, Heidelberg (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sheard, T., Pasalic, E.: Two-Level Types and Parameterized Modules. Journal of Functional Programming 14(5), 547–587 (2004)zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Völter, M., Visser, E.: Language Extension and Composition With Language Workbenches. In: ACM Int. Conf. on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications, pp. 301–304 (2010)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Erwig
    • 1
  • Eric Walkingshaw
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EECSOregon State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations