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Compiling with Continuations

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521416955
ISBN-10: 0521416957
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I recommend the book to language designers and implementors specializing in the functional paradigm." F.G. Pagan, Computing Reviews

Book Description

This book shows how continuation-passing style is used as an intermediate representation on which to perform optimisations and program transformations. It will be essential reading for compiler writers in both industry and academe, as well as for students and researchers in programming language theory.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 29, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521416957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521416955
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,568,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a very nice little book, and I found it to be surprisingly readable. The book is nicely written. Standard ML is used to illustrate the technique of compiling a functional language using continuations as the primary intermediate representation. Lack of familiarity with ML is not particularly burdensome. I would like to have seen more discussion of other languages, though (Scheme?).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Fuchs on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this book while trying to build a interpreter for a distributed language. Appel's approach not only solved my immediate issues (a uniform means of procedure call in the presence of mobility) but opened my mind to the utility of continuations in many areas of CS. It was a real mind opener, and the explanations were clear enough that I could adopt this approach with little difficulty.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian L. on June 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was fantastic. It opened my mind to a different mindset towards the compilation process while at the same time demystifying many concepts that I had previously only partially understood.

It is clear, concise, well-written, and unusually approachable for its genre. That said, I recommend some familiarity with ML-family languages as a prerequisite for approaching the book. He does include an appendix that's supposed to explain ML, but there are plenty of subtleties that I would have easily missed if that were my only resource.

This book doesn't discuss the front end of the compiler at all--there is no discussion of lexical analysis, parsing or type inference. If that's what you're after, look elsewhere. This is text is limited to the back end of the compiler.

The biggest quibble that I have with it is that the code generation chapter used MIPS/MAX/SPARC/68020 for case studies. In today's climate, ARM/x86/LLVM would be far more relevant and practical. This is an unfortunate consequence of the age of the text.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After all these years, this book remains the best source for anyone implementing a strongly-typed functional language. Providing an excellent introduction to all of the basic transformations (CPS), optimizations (contraction, CSE, call site optimization, etc.), and basic compilation techniques (closure conversion, etc.), this book holds everything you need to go from an initial AST to generating x86 code.

Naturally, it would be nice to have an update that touches on control-flow analysis-based optimizations or provides more detailed backend examples using MLRISC or LLVM. But for the time it was written, this book has stood up remarkably well.
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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Maturo VINE VOICE on June 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I haven't finished with this book yet, but it looks like a good book, and it was hghly recommended by
trusted people.
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