Abstract: From volume 1 Preface (See Front Matter for full Preface)
This book is intended for a one or two semester course in compiling theory at the senior or graduate level. It is a theoretically oriented treatment of a practical subject. Our motivation for making it so is threefold.
(1) In an area as rapidly changing as Computer Science, sound pedagogy demands that courses emphasize ideas, rather than implementation details. It is our hope that the algorithms and concepts presented in this book will survive the next generation of computers and programming languages, and that at least some of them will be applicable to fields other than compiler writing.
(2) Compiler writing has progressed to the point where many portions of a compiler can be isolated and subjected to design optimization. It is important that appropriate mathematical tools be available to the person attempting this optimization.
(3) Some of the most useful and most efficient compiler algorithms, e.g. LR(k) parsing, require a good deal of mathematical background for full understanding. We expect, therefore, that a good theoretical background will become essential for the compiler designer.
While we have not omitted difficult theorems that are relevant to compiling, we have tried to make the book as readable as possible. Numerous examples are given, each based on a small grammar, rather than on the large grammars encountered in practice. It is hoped that these examples are sufficient to illustrate the basic ideas, even in cases where the theoretical developments are difficult to follow in isolation.
From volume 2 Preface (See Front Matter for full Preface)
Compiler design is one of the first major areas of systems programming for which a strong theoretical foundation is becoming available. Volume I of The Theory of Parsing, Translation, and Compiling developed the relevant parts of mathematics and language theory for this foundation and developed the principal methods of fast syntactic analysis. Volume II is a continuation of Volume I, but except for Chapters 7 and 8 it is oriented towards the nonsyntactic aspects of compiler design.
The treatment of the material in Volume II is much the same as in Volume I, although proofs have become a little more sketchy. We have tried to make the discussion as readable as possible by providing numerous examples, each illustrating one or two concepts.
Since the text emphasizes concepts rather than language or machine details, a programming laboratory should accompany a course based on this book, so that a student can develop some facility in applying the concepts discussed to practical problems. The programming exercises appearing at the ends of sections can be used as recommended projects in such a laboratory. Part of the laboratory course should discuss the code to be generated for such programming language constructs as recursion, parameter passing, subroutine linkages, array references, loops, and so forth.