University of Minnesota
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Eric Van Wyk

Photo of Eric Van Wyk
Phone Number: 
612-625-0329
Office Location: 
EE/CS 6-203
Education: 

Ph.D. 1998, Computer Science, University of Iowa

M.S. 1991, Computer Science, University of Iowa

B.A. 1989, Mathematics and Computer Science, Luther College

Biography: 

Associate Professor Van Wyk's research focuses on programming languages, in particular extensible programming languages and compilers, applications of temporal logic, and algebraic compilers. In 2005 he was awarded a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship and the National Science Foundation's CAREER award in 2004.

He has authored or co-authored more than 25 publications, including journal and conference papers, articles and technical reports. Van Wyk has developed various software packages including the Silver attribute grammar specification and evaluation system, extensible specifications of Java 1.4 and ANSI C written in Silver, and various domain-specific language extensions for these Java and C specifications. He is a member of ACM, ACM SIGPLAN, IEEE, the IEEE Computer Society, and is involved in numerous conference committees. Van Wyk also does outreach, serving as a member of the St. Louis Park High School School Business and Information Technology Advisory Board.

Research: 

In general, my research is on declarative specifications for programming language tools, such as compilers and optimizers, and the mechanisms for mapping these specifications into executable programs.

One area of interest is extendible programming languages and compiler designs that allow new language features to be imported into a language framework. These new features define their own syntax, semantics, and optimizations. In such a system, programmers do not choose which language to use for a particular task, but instead choose which set of language features to use and import these features into their programming environment thus creating a one-off language specific to their current problem domain.

Many program optimizations can be simply stated as rewrite rules but the data and control flow conditions which must be satisfied to safely apply the rules can be rather complex. I am interested in using temporal logic as a declarative specification language for these conditions since it is formal and concise. Also, temporal logic model checkers can automatically locate the points in a program flow graph where optimizations can be safely made.

I also work on algebraic compilers where programming languages are specified as Galois-connected syntax and semantic algebras and language translators are specified as (generalized) homomorphisms.

Recent Publications

Verifiable Parse Table Composition for Deterministic Parsing

One obstacle to the implementation of modular extensions to programming languages lies in the problem of parsing extended languages. Specifically, the parse tables at the heart of traditional LALR(1) parsers are so monolithic and tightly constructed that, in the general case, it is impossible to extend them without regenerating them from the source grammar. Current extensible frameworks employ a variety of solutions, ranging from a full regeneration to using pluggable binary modules for each different extension.

Flexibility in Modeling Languages and Tools: A Call to Arms

In model-based development, the software development effort is centered around a formal description of the proposed software system; a description that can be subjected to various types of analysis and code generation. Based on years of experience with model-based development and formal modeling we believe that the following conjectures describe fundamental obstacles to wide adoption of formal modeling and the potential for automation that comes with it; (1) no single modeling notation will suit all, or even most, modeling needs,

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