cucu: a compiler u can understand (part 2)

So far, we have defined language grammar and have written a lexer. In this part we will write a parser for our language. Before we start, we need some helper functions:

int peek(char *s) {
    return (strcmp(tok, s) == 0);
}

int accept(char *s) {
    if (peek(s)) {
        readtok();
        return 1;
    }
    return 0;
}

int expect(char *s) {
    if (accept(s) == 0) {
        error("Error: expected '%s'\n", s);
    }
}

peek() returns non-zero value if the next token is equal to the given string. accept() reads the next token, if it’s equal to the given string, otherwise it returns 0. And expect() helps us to check language syntax.

the harder part

As you can see from the language grammar, statements and various expression types are strongly interconnected. It means we have to write all parser functions at once, keeping in mind the recursion. Let’s go again from top to bottom. Here’s our top-level compiler() functions:

static int typename();
static void statement();

static void compile() {
    while (tok[0] != 0) { /* until EOF */
        if (typename() == 0) {
            error("Error: type name expected\n");
        }
        DEBUG("identifier: %s\n", tok);
        readtok();
        if (accept(";")) {
            DEBUG("variable definition\n");
            continue;
        } 
        expect("(");
        int argc = 0;
        for (;;) {
            argc++;
            typename();
            DEBUG("function argument: %s\n", tok);
            readtok();
            if (peek(")")) {
                break;
            }
            expect(",");
        }
        expect(")");
        if (accept(";") == 0) {
            DEBUG("function body\n");
            statement();
        }
    }
}

It reads type name, then an identifier. If it’s followed by a semicolon - it’s a variable declaration. If it’s followed by a paren - it’s a function. Function scans function arguments one by one, and if function is not followed by a semicolon - it’s a definition (function with a body), otherwise - it’s just a declaration (just function name and prototype).

Here, typename() is function that just skips the valid type name. We accept only int and char and various pointers to them (char *):

static int typename() {
    if (peek("int") || peek("char")) {
        readtok();
        while (accept("*"));
        return 1;
    }
    return 0;
}

The most interesting part is the statement() function. It parses a single statement, which can be a block, a local variable definition/declaration, a return statement etc. Here how it should look like:

static void statement() {
    if (accept("{")) {
        while (accept("}") == 0) {
            statement();
        }
    } else if (typename()) {
        DEBUG("local variable: %s\n", tok);
        readtok();
        if (accept("=")) {
            expr();
            DEBUG(" :=\n");
        }
        expect(";");
    } else if (accept("if")) {
        /* TODO */
    } else if (accept("while")) {
        /* TODO */
    } else if (accept("return")) {
        if (peek(";") == 0) {
            expr();
        }
        expect(";");
        DEBUG("RET\n");
    } else {
        expr();
        expect(";");
    }
}

So, if it’s a block { .. } - just read statements until end of block is met. If it starts with a type name - it’s a local variable. Conditional statements (“if/then/else”) and loops are just stubs for now. Think of how you would implement them according to the grammar we use.

Anyway, most of the statement contain expressions inside. So, we need to make a function that parses an expression. Expression parser is a recursive descent parser, so it’s a number of functions that call each other recursively until primary expression is found. Primary expression as we can see from the grammar is a number (constant) or an identifier (variable or function).

static void prim_expr() {
    if (isdigit(tok[0])) {
        DEBUG(" const-%s ", tok);
    } else if (isalpha(tok[0])) {
        DEBUG(" var-%s ", tok);
    } else if (accept("(")) {
        expr();
        expect(")");
    } else {
        error("Unexpected primary expression: %s\n", tok);
    }
    readtok();
}

static void postfix_expr() {
    prim_expr();
    if (accept("[")) {
        expr();
        expect("]");
        DEBUG(" [] ");
    } else if (accept("(")) {
        if (accept(")") == 0) {
            expr();
            DEBUG(" FUNC-ARG\n");
            while (accept(",")) {
                expr();
                DEBUG(" FUNC-ARG\n");
            }
            expect(")");
        }
        DEBUG(" FUNC-CALL\n");
    }
}

static void add_expr() {
    postfix_expr();
    while (peek("+") || peek("-")) {
        if (accept("+")) {
            postfix_expr();
            DEBUG(" + ");
        } else if (accept("-")) {
            postfix_expr();
            DEBUG(" - ");
        }
    }
}

static void shift_expr() {
    add_expr();
    while (peek("<<") || peek(">>")) {
        if (accept("<<")) {
            add_expr();
            DEBUG(" << ");
        } else if (accept(">>")) {
            add_expr();
            DEBUG(" >> ");
        }
    }
}

static void rel_expr() {
    shift_expr();
    while (peek("<")) {
        if (accept("<")) {
            shift_expr();
            DEBUG(" < ");
        }
    }
}

static void eq_expr() {
    rel_expr();
    while (peek("==") || peek("!=")) {
        if (accept("==")) {
            rel_expr();
            DEBUG(" == ");
        } else if (accept("!=")) {
            rel_expr();
            DEBUG("!=");
        }
    }
}

static void bitwise_expr() {
    eq_expr();
    while (peek("|") || peek("&")) {
        if (accept("|")) {
            eq_expr();
            DEBUG(" OR ");
        } else if (accept("&")) {
            eq_expr();
            DEBUG(" AND ");
        }
    }
}

static void expr() {
    bitwise_expr();
    if (accept("=")) {
        expr();
        DEBUG(" := ");
    }
}

It’s a big piece of code, but don’t be afraid - it’s really simple. Every function that parses expression type first tries to call a more prioritized expression parser. Then, if an expected operator is found - it calls more prioritized expression parser again. Now it has parsed both parts of a binary expression (like x+y, or x&y, or x==y), so it can perform an operation and return. Some expression can be “chained” (like a+b+c+d), so we parse them with loops.

We put debug output after every expression parser function. This will give us an interesting result. For example, if we parse this piece of code:

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
    int i = 2 + 3;
    char *s;
    func(i+2, i == 2 + 2, s[i+2]);
    return i & 34 + 2;
}

we will get this ouput:

identifier: main
function argument: argc
function argument: argv
function body
local variable: i
 const-2  const-3  +  :=
local variable: s
 var-func  var-i  const-2  +  FUNC-ARG
 var-i  const-2  const-2  +  ==  FUNC-ARG
 var-s  var-i  const-2  +  []  FUNC-ARG
 FUNC-CALL
 var-i  const-34  const-2  +  AND RET

All our expressions are written in a postfix form (instead of 2+3 it’s 2 3 +). This is a natural form for stack machines, when operands are placed on the stack, then a function called pops up the operands, processes them and puts the result back on the stack.

Though it might not be an optimal architecture for most modern CPUs, which are register-based, it’s still very simple and fits our compiler needs.

symbols

Ok, we are good. We’ve got a lexer and a parser in less than 300 lines of code. What we need to do is to add some functions to work with the symbols (like variable names, or functions). A compiler should have a table of symbols to quickly find their addresses, so when you write “i = 0” - it means put zero into the location at address 0x1234 in RAM (if symbol “i” has address 0x1234 in memory). Also, when you call “func()” it means - jump to address 0x5678 (if symbol “func” has value of 0x5678).

We use the following structure for symbols:

struct sym {
    char type;
    int addr;
    char name[];
};

Here type has special meaning. We use a single-letter codes to detect symbol type:

So far, I’ve added two functions: sym_find(char *s) to find symbol by its name, and sym_declare() to add a new symbol.

Now we’re are ready to develop backend architecture →

Check part 1 if you missed something

Posted on 2012-10-24

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