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Names are crucial for organizing and understanding programs. Yet names and name binding get a second class treatment in programming language definition. We have a fairly standardized approach based on context-free grammars to provide tool independent descriptions of the syntax of programming languages. There is no analog for describing the name binding rules of programming languages. It is hard to explain the rules and they are encoded in many different ways in implementations of programming language tools. In this talk I present scope graphs, a new approach to defining the name binding rules of programming languages. A scope graph represents the name binding facts of a program using the basic concepts of declarations and reference associated with scopes that are connected by edges. Name resolution is defined by searching for paths from references to declarations in a scope graph. Scope graph diagrams provide an illuminating visual notation for explaining the bindings in programs. But scope graphs are more than pretty pictures. The foundational resolution calculus provides the basis for generic, language-independent implementation of a range of tools involving name binding. I will demonstrate how the Spoofax language workbench uses scope graphs to implement name resolution in IDEs and memory models in interpreters.

Eelco Visser is Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor of Computer Science at Delft University of Technology. He received a master’s and doctorate in computer science from the University of Amsterdam in 1993 and 1997, respectively. Previously he served as postdoc at the Oregon Graduate Institute, as Assistant Professor at Utrecht University, and as Associate Professor at TU Delft.

His research interests include programming languages, software language engineering, domain-specific programming languages, program transformation, software security, and interaction design. With his students he has designed and implemented the Spoofax language workbench, as well as many domain-specific languages, including DSLs for syntax definition (SDF2, SDF3), program transformation (Stratego), name binding (NaBL), dynamic semantics (DynSem), software deployment (Nix), web application development (WebDSL), and mobile phone applications (mobl). In the language designer’s workbench project he is pursuing high-level declarative language definition that serves for language implementation and verification.

Tue 20 Jun

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