The anatomy of programming languages by Alice E. Fischer

By Alice E. Fischer

This complete dialogue of the elements of a programming language emphasises how a language is equipped. It covers middle innovations together with specification, items, expressions, keep watch over and kinds with discussions of basics, implementations innovations and similar semantic concerns. The e-book additionally makes a speciality of present themes akin to modules and object-oriented programming. during the textual content there's an emphasis on semantics and abstraction, plus dialogue at the syntax and ancient advancements of languages in mild of the underlying semantical ideas. there are various examples given, that are all annotated from numerous languages together with Pascal, C, C++, Forth, easy, Lisp, Fortran, Ada, Cobol, Prolog, Turing, Miranda and Scheme.

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Here are some corollaries of the general principle, applied to lexical organization of a program that will be debugged on-line, using an ordinary nonhierarchical text editor: • A control structure that won’t fit on one screen is too long; shorten it by defining one or more scopes as subroutines. • All variables should be defined within one screen of their use. This applies whether the user’s screen is large or small—the important thing is to be able to see an entire unit at one time. • If your subroutine won’t fit on two screens, it is too long.

BASIC was developed in the context of FORTRAN, which uses numeric line numbers as statement labels. It was, therefore, natural for BASIC to merge the two ideas and use one mechanism, the monotonically increasing line number, to serve purposes (1) and (2) below. When the language was extended to include subroutines, symbolic names for them were not defined either. Rather, the same line numbers were given a third use. Line numbers in BASIC are, therefore, multipurpose: 1. They define the correct order of lines in a program.

But BASIC supplies no way to restrict GOTOs to the lines that the programmer knows should be their targets. Thus the translator cannot help the programmer ensure valid use of labels. We would say that the ability to GOTO or GOSUB to any line in the program without writing an explicit label declaration is excessively flexible: it saves the programmer the minor trouble of declaring labels, but it leads to errors. If there were some way to restrict the set of target lines, BASIC would be a better and more powerful language.

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