University of Minnesota
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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

Verifiable Composition of Deterministic Grammars

There is an increasing interest in domain-specific and extensible languages, and frameworks for developing extensions to them. One challenge is to develop tools that allow non-expert programmers to add an eclectic set of language extensions to a host language. In this paper we describe mechanisms for composing and analyzing syntactic specifications of a host language and extensions.

Adding Dimension Analysis to Java as a Composable Language Extension

In this paper we describe a language extension that adds dimension analysis to Java. Dimension analysis can be used to check that values that represent physical measurements such as length and mass are not used inconsistently. What distinguishes this work from previous work that adds dimension analysis to programming languages is that here the extension is implemented as a composable language extension.

Context-Aware Scanning for Parsing Extensible Languages

This paper introduces new parsing and context-aware scanning algorithms in which the scanner uses contextual information to disambiguate lexical syntax. The parser utilizes a slightly modified LR-style algorithm that passes to the scanner the set of valid symbols which the scanner may return at that point in parsing. This set is the terminal symbols that are valid for the current state, i.e., those whose entry in the parse table are shift, reduce, or accept, but not error. The scanner then only returns tokens in this set.

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