obsessions with lexical and syntactic issues

rrh@skagit.cs.washington.edu (Robert R. Henry)
Mon, 13 Nov 89 19:33:58 -0800

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obsessions with lexical and syntactic issues rrh@skagit.cs.washington.edu (1989-11-13)
Re: obsessions with lexical and syntactic issues albaugh@dms.UUCP (1989-11-14)
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Date: Mon, 13 Nov 89 19:33:58 -0800
From: rrh@skagit.cs.washington.edu (Robert R. Henry)

All of this discussion on lexing and parsing makes me think that we're
still in the 1960's or taking classes taught by theoreticians. It
seems foolish to be fixated on issues that account for less than 20% of
the compile time, and probably less than 5% of the compiler writer's
time and surely less than .001% of the undetected errors in a

Who >really< cares about syntax anyway?

It would be more interesting to spend time on hard issues, such as
attribution, retargetability, run time organization, and so on. Surely
its harder and ultimately more important to implement powerful data
flow analysis routines correctly and efficiently than to focus on
converting strings to trees.

Robert R. Henry
[We certainly do resemble the drunk who was looking for his glasses under
the streelight because it was better lit there, although I must insist that
the theory behind NFAs and DFAs for lexing and context-free grammars for
parsing are interesting and worthwhile for the well-educated computer
scientist to understand. Could someone suggest sources for an up-to-date
introduction to attribute grammars and denotational sematics for those of
us still a little hazy on those topics? -John]
[From rrh@skagit.cs.washington.edu (Robert R. Henry)]

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