Despite using them every day, most software engineers know little about how programming languages are designed and implemented. For many, their only experience with that corner of computer science was a terrifying "compilers" class that they suffered through in undergrad and tried to blot from their memory as soon as they had scribbled their last NFA to DFA conversion on the final exam.
That fearsome reputation belies a field that is rich with useful techniques and not so difficult as some of its practitioners might have you believe. A better understanding of how programming languages are built will make you a stronger software engineer and teach you concepts and data structures you'll use the rest of your coding days. You might even have fun.
This book teaches you everything you need to know to implement a full-featured, efficient scripting language. You'll learn both high-level concepts around parsing and semantics and gritty details like bytecode representation and garbage collection. Your brain will light up with new ideas, and your hands will get dirty and calloused.
Starting from main(), you will build a language that features rich syntax, dynamic typing, garbage collection, lexical scope, first-class functions, closures, classes, and inheritance. All packed into a few thousand lines of clean, fast code that you thoroughly understand because you wrote each one yourself.
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About the Author
Bob Nystrom is a senior software engineer at Google working on the Dart programming language. Before discovering a love of programming languages, he developed games for eight years at Electronic Arts. He is the author of the best-selling book "Game Programming Patterns" and "Crafting Interpreters".
Robert lives with his wife and two daughters in Seattle where you are most likely to find him cooking for his friends and plying them with good beer.
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- Design Note: What's in a Name?
- 2. A Map of the Territory
- 3. The Lox Language
- Design Note: Expressions and Statements
II. A Tree-Walk Interpreter
- 4. Scanning
- Design Note: Implicit Semicolons
- 5. Representing Code
- 6. Parsing Expressions
- Design Note: Logic Versus History
- 7. Evaluating Expressions
- Design Note: Static and Dynamic Typing
- 8. Statements and State
- Design Note: Implicit Variable Declaration
- 9. Control Flow
- Design Note: Spoonfuls of Syntactic Sugar
- 10. Functions
- 11. Resolving and Binding
- 12. Classes
- Design Note: Prototypes and Power
- 13. Inheritance
III. A Bytecode Virtual Machine
- 14. Chunks of Bytecode
- Design Note: Test Your Language
- 15. A Virtual Machine
- Design Note: Register-Based Bytecode
- 16. Scanning on Demand
- 17. Compiling Expressions
- Design Note: It's Just Parsing
- 18. Types of Values
- 19. Strings
- Design Note: String Encoding
- 20. Hash Tables
- 21. Global Variables
- 22. Local Variables
- 23. Jumping Back and Forth
- Design Note: Considering Goto Harmful
- 24. Calls and Functions
- 25. Closures
- Design Note: Closing Over the Loop Variable
- 26. Garbage Collection
- Design Note: Generational Collectors
- 27. Classes and Instances
- 28. Methods and Initializers
- Design Note: Novelty Budget
- 29. Superclasses
- 30. Optimization