University of Minnesota
Software Engineering Center

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Minnesota Extensible Language Tools

Software development is a time-consuming and error-prone process that often results in unreliable and insecure software. At least part of the reason for these undesirable results is that large semantic gap between the programmer's high-level understanding of the problem and the relatively low-level programming language in which the problem solutions are encoded. Thus, programmers cannot "say what they mean" but must encode their ideas as programming idioms at a lower level of abstraction. This wastes time and is the source of many errors. A long range goal is to improve the software development process and the quality of the resulting software artifacts by reducing the semantic gap. Extensible languages provide a promising way to achieve this goal. An extensible language can easily be extended with the unique combination of domain-specific language features that raises the level of abstraction to that of the task at hand. The extended language provides the programmer with language constructs, optimizations, and static program analyses to significantly simplify the software development process.

Recent Publications

Network generation and analysis of complex biomass conversion systems

A modular computational tool for automated generation and rule-based post-processing of reaction systems in biomass conversion is presented. Cheminformatics and graph theory algorithms are used to generate chemical transformations pertaining to heterogeneous and homogeneous chemistries in the automated rule-based network generator. A domain-specific language provides a user-friendly English-like chemistry specification interface to the network generator. A rule-based pathway analysis module enables the user to extract and query pathways from the reaction network.

Silver: an Extensible Attribute Grammar System

Attribute grammar specification languages, like many domain-specific languages, offer significant advantages to their users, such as high-level declarative constructs and domain-specific analyses. Despite these advantages, attribute grammars are often not adopted to the degree that their proponents envision. One practical obstacle to their adoption is a perceived lack of both domain-specific and general purpose language features needed to address the many different aspects of a problem.