Syntax and Semantics of Programming Languages, A Laboratory Based Approach

A gentle introduction of formal semantics for students with a basic grounding in discrete mathematic.

**Tag(s):**
Formal Methods

**Publication date**: 31 Dec 1995

**ISBN-10**:
0201656973

**ISBN-13**:
n/a

**Paperback**:
n/a

**Views**: 19,927

Syntax and Semantics of Programming Languages, A Laboratory Based Approach

A gentle introduction of formal semantics for students with a basic grounding in discrete mathematic.

Book excerpts:

This book is developed out from the experiences of teaching courses covering the formal semantics of programming languages. Although the specification methods are formal, the presentation is "gentle", providing just enough in the way of mathematical underpinnings to produce an understanding of the metalanguages. Enough coverage of mathematics and formal methods are presented to justify the definitional techniques, but the text is accessible to students with a basic grounding in discrete mathematics as presented to undergraduate computer science students.

There has been a tendency in the area of formal semantics to create cryptic, overly concise semantic definitions that intimidate students new to the study of programming languages. The emphasis in this text is on clear notational conventions with the foremost goals of readability and understandability.

Along the way, laboratory exercises were developed in implementing small programming languages in Prolog following denotational definitions. Prolog proved to be an excellent tool for illustrating the formal semantics of programming languages. It turned out that these laboratory exercises were highly successful in motivating students since the hands-on experience helped demystify the study of formal semantics. Although this text has been carefully written so that the laboratory activities can be omitted without loss of continuity, most readers should try the laboratory approach and experience the same success observed in the author's classes.

As with other textbooks in this field, this books also introduces the basic concepts using mini-languages that are rich enough to illustrate the fundamental concepts, yet sparse enough to avoid being overwhelming.

Wren, a simple imperative language with two types, integer and Boolean, thus allowing for context-sensitive type and declaration checking. It has assignment, if, while, and input/output commands.

Pelican, a block-structured, imperative language, is an extension of Wren containing the declaration of constants, anonymous blocks, procedures, and recursive definitions.

The description of continuations in denotational semantics requires a modified version of Wren with goto statements, called Gull. This minilanguage can be skipped without loss of continuity if continuations are not covered.

This book is developed out from the experiences of teaching courses covering the formal semantics of programming languages. Although the specification methods are formal, the presentation is "gentle", providing just enough in the way of mathematical underpinnings to produce an understanding of the metalanguages. Enough coverage of mathematics and formal methods are presented to justify the definitional techniques, but the text is accessible to students with a basic grounding in discrete mathematics as presented to undergraduate computer science students.

There has been a tendency in the area of formal semantics to create cryptic, overly concise semantic definitions that intimidate students new to the study of programming languages. The emphasis in this text is on clear notational conventions with the foremost goals of readability and understandability.

Along the way, laboratory exercises were developed in implementing small programming languages in Prolog following denotational definitions. Prolog proved to be an excellent tool for illustrating the formal semantics of programming languages. It turned out that these laboratory exercises were highly successful in motivating students since the hands-on experience helped demystify the study of formal semantics. Although this text has been carefully written so that the laboratory activities can be omitted without loss of continuity, most readers should try the laboratory approach and experience the same success observed in the author's classes.

As with other textbooks in this field, this books also introduces the basic concepts using mini-languages that are rich enough to illustrate the fundamental concepts, yet sparse enough to avoid being overwhelming.

Wren, a simple imperative language with two types, integer and Boolean, thus allowing for context-sensitive type and declaration checking. It has assignment, if, while, and input/output commands.

Pelican, a block-structured, imperative language, is an extension of Wren containing the declaration of constants, anonymous blocks, procedures, and recursive definitions.

The description of continuations in denotational semantics requires a modified version of Wren with goto statements, called Gull. This minilanguage can be skipped without loss of continuity if continuations are not covered.

Tweet

About The Author(s)

No information is available for this author.

No information is available for this author.

Book Categories

Computer Science
Introduction to Computer Science
Introduction to Computer Programming
Algorithms and Data Structures
Artificial Intelligence
Computer Vision
Machine Learning
Neural Networks
Game Development and Multimedia
Data Communication and Networks
Coding Theory
Computer Security
Information Security
Cryptography
Information Theory
Computer Organization and Architecture
Operating Systems
Image Processing
Parallel Computing
Concurrent Programming
Relational Database
Document-oriented Database
Data Mining
Big Data
Data Science
Digital Libraries
Compiler Design and Construction
Functional Programming
Logic Programming
Object Oriented Programming
Formal Methods
Software Engineering
Agile Software Development
Information Systems
Geographic Information System (GIS)

Mathematics
Mathematics
Algebra
Abstract Algebra
Linear Algebra
Number Theory
Numerical Methods
Precalculus
Calculus
Differential Equations
Category Theory
Proofs
Discrete Mathematics
Theory of Computation
Graph Theory
Real Analysis
Complex Analysis
Probability
Statistics
Game Theory
Queueing Theory
Operations Research
Computer Aided Mathematics

Supporting Fields
Web Design and Development
Mobile App Design and Development
System Administration
Cloud Computing
Electric Circuits
Embedded System
Signal Processing
Integration and Automation
Network Science
Project Management

Operating System
Programming/Scripting
Ada
Assembly
C / C++
Common Lisp
Forth
Java
JavaScript
Lua
Microsoft .NET
Rexx
Perl
PHP
Python
R
Rebol
Ruby
Scheme
Tcl/Tk

Miscellaneous
Sponsors