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

Aspects as Modular Language Extensions

Extensible programming languages and their compilers use highly modular specifications of languages and language extensions that allow a variety of different language feature sets to be easily imported into the programming environment by the programmer. Our model of extensible languages is based on higher-order attribute grammars and an extension called ``forwarding'' that mimics a simple rewriting process. It is designed so that no additional attribute definitions need to be written when combining a language with language extensions.

Universal Regular Path Queries

Given are a directed edge-labelled graph G with a distinguished node n0, and a regular expression P which may contain variables. We wish to compute all substitutions phi (of symbols for variables), together with all nodes n such that all paths n0 to n are in phi(P). We derive an algorithm for this problem using relational algebra, and show how it may be implemented in Prolog. The motivation for the problem derives from a declarative framework for specifying compiler optimisations.

Specification languages in algebraic compilers

Algebraic compilers provide a powerful and convenient mechanism for specifying language translators. With each source language operation one associates a computation for constructing its target language image; these associated computations, called derived operations, are expressed in terms of operations from the target language. Sometimes the target language is not powerful enough to specify the required translation and one may then need to extend the target language algebras with more computationally expressive operations or elements. A better solution is to package these

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