Build Your Own Programming Language

By Clinton L. Jeffery
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About this book

The need for different types of computer languages is growing rapidly and developers prefer creating domain-specific languages for solving specific application domain problems. Although building your own programming language has its advantages and it can be your antidote to the ever-increasing size and complexity of the software crisis in modern times thanks to hardware advancements, creating a custom language isn’t easy.

In this book, you will be able to put the knowledge you gain to work in language design and implementation. You will implement the front-end of a compiler for your language, including a lexical analyzer and parser. The book then covers a series of traversals of syntax trees, culminating with code generation for a byte-code virtual machine. Moving ahead, you will learn how domain-specific language features are often best represented by operators and functions that are built into the language, rather than library functions. The book concludes by showing you how to implement garbage collection, including reference counting and mark-and-sweep garbage collection. Throughout the book, Dr. Jeffery weaves in his experience of building the Unicon programming language to give better context to the concepts, while providing relevant examples in Unicon and Java.

By the end of this programming book, you will be able to build and deploy your own domain-specific languages, capable of compiling and running programs.

Publication date:
December 2021

About the Author

  • Clinton L. Jeffery

    Clinton L. Jeffery is Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He received his B.S. from the University of Washington, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Arizona, all in computer science. He has conducted research and written many books and papers on programming languages, program monitoring, debugging, graphics, virtual environments, and visualization. With colleagues, he invented the Unicon programming language, hosted on the Unicon website.

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