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Grammars for Programming Languages (Programming languages series) Hardcover – December, 1976


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Product Details

  • Series: Programming languages series
  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science Ltd (December 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0444001875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0444001870
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,673,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is largely an absolutely excellent tutorial on W-grammars (aka two level grammars, aka van Wijngaarden grammars). I would have said the best tutorial on W-grammars - but I think there aren't any other descriptions of W-grammars at all, good or bad, except for van Wijngaarden's original papers, perhaps, so that would be damning with faint praise. So I'll just go with an absolute statement: an excellent tutorial.

W-grammars are very interesting because they are context sensitive rather than context free, which allows the grammar to be used to describe programming language semantics as well as syntax, and, after you read this book and understand tham, you'll see their power. (IMO they're easier to understand and use than denotational semantics.) But without this book people were left to read the Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language Algol 68 without any help at all - which was completely impossible - and so both Algol 68 and W-grammars sunk with barely a trace. Which is a shame.

The book carefully explains how to read and write W-grammars and how to use the unique context-sensitive features of W-grammars (what would programming languages look like today if context-sensitive grammars had replaced context-free grammars 35 years ago when this book was written?).
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By Alok Govil on June 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written book. It uses no more or no less words than needed to describe the concepts fully. The examples given in the book are very well chosen too and go step-by-step from simple to increasingly complex demonstrations to complex but highly relevant grammars for theorem proving.

I learned about this book via praise of it in Dick Grune's Parsing Techniques, which is another book I highly recommend on the subject of parsing.
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