Tutorial 4

Generative Programming: Concepts and Experiences

Agile and Efficient Domain-Specific Languages using Multi-stage Programming in Java Mint

Mathias Ricken, Edwin Westbrook
Domain-specific languages (DSLs) are a powerful productivity tool because they allow domain experts, who are not necessarily programming experts, to quickly develop programs. DSL implementations have unique constraints for programming languages because they must be efficient, in order to ensure high productivity, but they must also be agile, in order to meet the rapidly changing demands of their domains. In this tutorial we show how multi-stage programming (MSP) can be used to build staged interpreters, which combine the agility of interpreters with the efficiency of compilers. The tutorial is conducted in Java Mint, an multi-stage Java based on recent work incorporating MSP into imperative object-oriented languages. In the first half of the tutorial, we introduce MSP by demonstrating how to write a staged interpreter for a number of basic language constructs, such as recursive functions, conditionals, and let expressions. In the second half, we extend our staged interpreter to take advantage of several well-known compiler optimizations, including type inference, constant folding, and static parallel loop scheduling. We highlight the opportunities afforded by using MSP with object-oriented design to quickly create efficient DSL implementations.

Author bios
Mathias Ricken is a doctoral candidate in the Programming Languages Team at Rice University and one of the principal developers of the DrJava integrated development environment. His research interests include concurrent programming, extending the Java language, and computer science education. He is the developer of the Concutest concurrent unit testing framework and has created various experimental extensions of Java to address, for instance, programming with meta-data. Currently, Mathias is contributing to Java Mint, a multi-stage extension of Java that allows safe and expressive statically typed program generation and specialization in an imperative language setting.

Edwin Westbrook is a post-doctoral researcher at Rice University. His primary interests are in developing techniques for implementing and verifying properties of domain-specific languages (DSLs). He has worked on a number of projects in this area, including: Cinic, a type theory for building machine-checked proofs of properties of DSLs using a new approach to higher-order abstract syntax; Java Mint, a multi-stage version of Java used for efficient implementations of DSLs; and Acumen, a DSL for designing cyber-physical systems.