Re: What Is Assembly Language? (Kirk Hays)
10 Jun 1997 23:55:02 -0400

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From: (Kirk Hays)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 10 Jun 1997 23:55:02 -0400
Organization: Sequent Computer Systems, Inc.
References: 97-06-013
Keywords: assembler, summary

Mark Hopkins <> wrote:

I really dislike this definition of assembly language - there is no
need to drag "real time" into it. Indeed, many modern processors no
longer have fixed execution times for machine instructions (the binary
representation of "assembly language instructions", and are thus
non-determinate WRT "real time".

Instead, how about defining assembly language as "a convenient, human
readable notation for machine language"?

A definition of machine language is trivial, and is left as an
exercise for the student ;-).

>(1) What is Assembly Language?
> It is a mathematical notation used to represent a finite state machine
>which operates in real time. Each program is a different finite state machine,
>with the microprocessor, itself, being a kind of tabula rasa on which these
>machines are "written".
>(1.1) Assembly Language vs. High-Level Language
> A high-level language provides a notation for an abstract machine, which
>in a similar way is written on a kind of tabula rasa. In contrast, though,
>the notation of the high-level language represents an abstract machine model,
>which normally has no direct connection to real time, and which is meant to be
>of equivalent power to the infinite state abstract machine model known as the
>Turing Machine.

Since I can translate any high level language to assembly language,
then the assembly language must be as powerful as the high level

Thus, the high level language must be a finite state machine, if the
assembly language is, as well.

Also, no abstract machine model realized on a physical machine can
have "equivalent power" to a turing machine, unless the physical
machine has unlimited storage, a physical impossibility.

This fairly basic error at the beginning of your "FAQ" invalidates a fair
portion of the rest of it, to my reading.
Kirk Hays

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