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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

An event-driven compiling technique

Due to the linear structure of source text, difficulties may arise in a one-pass compilation process. These difficulties occur when an entity cannot be processed because of a forward reference to information only obtainable from subsequent entities. Classic solutions ask for data structures appropriate for each case. A technique is presented here which uses instead control structures, namely events and processes. The work of the compiler-writer becomes easier both conceptually and in practice because he can forget these problems at the outset and he avoids special processing for each problem. This technique has been applied to the construction of an Algol 68 compiler. Three examples from that implementation are described and discussed here.

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