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Using Views to Aid Language Design

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christopher Holt



Language design involves the construction of a mathematical model of meanings, together with the construction of an abstract syntax for representing those meanings, followed by the reduction of the latter to a concrete syntax. Unfortunately, this activity seems subject to a weak ""Sapir-Whorf"" influence: the optimization of syntax, which is necessary to make it easy to say things clearly, affects attitudes about what should be expressed, which feeds back into the construction and understanding of semantic domains. This interaction between syntax and semantics can be reduced by having more than one style of representation. Then, a superficially appealing simplification in one syntax may be seen to lead to complications in another; but a modification that makes things clearer across different views is more likely to indicate a genuine simplification in semantics. This process is illustrated through the prototype design of an eventflow specification and programming language.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Holt CM

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Department of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 1998

Pages: 19

Report Number: 650

Institution: Department of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne