Reliable and Automatic Composition of Language Extensions to C, the ableC Extensible Language Framework

December 11, 2017 -
11:15am to 12:15pm
Computer Science and Engineering, UMN
Keller Hall 3-180
Abstract: AbleC is an extensible language framework that allows programmers to import new, domain-specific, independently-developed language features into their programming language, in this case C. Most importantly, this framework ensures that the language extensions will automatically compose to form a working translator that does not terminate abnormally. This is possible due to two modular analyses that extension developers can apply to their language extension to check its composability. Specifically, these ensure that the composed concrete syntax specification is non-ambiguous and the composed attribute grammar specifying the semantics is well-defined. This assurance and the expressiveness of the supported extensions is a distinguishing characteristic of the approach.
The ableC framework includes a number of techniques for specifying a host language, in this case C at the C11 standard, to make it more amenable to language extension.  These include techniques that make additional extensions pass these modular analyses, refactorings of the host language to support a wider range of extensions, and the addition of semantic extension points to support, for example, operator overloading and non-local code transformations.

Bio: Eric Van Wyk is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at the University of Minnesota.  His research interests include extensible programming languages and the extensible compiler frameworks that implement such languages.  Of specific interest are tools and analyses that ensure that independently developed language extensions will work in harmony when composed.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1998 and was a post-doctoral researcher in the Computing Laboratory at Oxford University before joining the University of Minnesota in 2002.  Dr. Van Wyk was a 2005-2007 McKnight Land-Grant Professor and is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and the 2017 Charles E. Bower Faculty Teaching award.