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You'll want the Dragon Book as a reference, not necessary to get started with, but to build the semantic tree on which you will need to pin concepts on. https://www.amazon.com/Compilers-Principles-Techniques-Tools...

If you aren't yet committed to any language, you can start building a parser with PyParsing. It's really easy. http://pyparsing.wikispaces.com/

If you want to take a quick (albeit expensive) class on it, Dave Beazley offers one: http://www.dabeaz.com/chicago/compiler.html




Hmm. This might be kind of blasphemous, but I think I'd recommend against the dragon book? As I remember, the emphasis in that book is on syntax-directed translation. I might argue that the less you're thinking about syntax and lexing/parsing crap the better. (For that reason: ignore other answers that tell you to learn about a particular parser generator (e.g. ANTLR). That's just fluff.)

Really, if you're coming to programming language design with the thought "I'm going to make an imperative, object oriented language" (with parallelism as an afterthought), you're doing it wrong. The world has enough of those already and you're going to invent something worse than what's already there.

Probably, instead of inventing a new language (say Matlab for matrix operations or Prolog for logical reasoning), you'd be better off implementing a library that handles the same concepts and embeds into another language (which is really what happened with Tensorflow or MapReduce to think of two examples).

(Grune's book "Parsing Techniques" is a great reference on parsing crap, but the secret is that if you design your grammar to be LL(1) you can parse your language using recursive descent: you only need a fancy parser if you designed a more complicated grammar (why'd you do that?))

Recommended book: The Reasoned Schemer. It's a cute (maybe too cute) book that shows how to implement a logic programming language (~datalog) using scheme as a base language. The Wizard book (structure and interpretation of computer languages) also has really cool examples that I think 60% of programmers I've worked with in industry don't fully appreciate.


Only the first couple chapters deal with lexing and parsing. The Dragon book covers a lot more than just the syntax analysis: semantic analysis, type checking, run time environment design, intermediate language design, code generation, code optimization, and more. It doesn't have the newer stuff like JIT or Hindley–Milner type system, but those can be picked up separately with reading the papers.

OP asks for resource to build a language. The Dragon book is a very good book to cover the whole process.


This might be kind of blasphemous, but I think I'd recommend against the dragon book?

I agree! It's hard to criticize a book rightly regarded as a classic, but I think it solves the wrong problems, or at least emphasizes the wrong areas.

if you design your grammar to be LL(1) you can parse your language using recursive descent

Yep, that's the way to do it.


I read the question as the OP wanting to go through a didactic exercise in building a programming language from the ground up rather than building a DSL, in which case, lexing and parsing is a fundamental concept to cover, among others. I agree with keeping it LL(1), but it may also be worth it for the OP to understand what LL(1) means. I agree parsing is not at all the most important thing to learn in language implementation, but it seems to me almost a necessary thing to cover in order complete one's education in the subject. To omit it would be akin to omitting a discussion of limits in a study of calculus.




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