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CSE 302: Compilers | Lab 2
A Basic Frontend

1 INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this lab is to build a frontend for (a slight extensions of) the BX fragment that was used in
lab 1. You will write a lexer, a parser, and a syntax checker for this BX fragment using off-the-shelf lexer
and parser generators. For the specific case of Python, this document explains how to use the PLY library.
For other languages you will need to do some research on your own for equivalent libraries.
This lab will be assessed. It is worth 10% of your final grade. Your compiler pass is due in 1 week, i.e., on
or before 2021-09-23 23:59:59 (Paris time).
It is recommended that you work in groups of size 2. Your submission must contain a file called GROUP.txt
that contains the names of the group members.
2 THE BX FRAGMENT WE WILL USE
Like lab 1, the source language for this lab remains a simplified fragment of BX. There still are no control
structures such as loops, conditionals, or functions, and you can still only output individual numbers by
means of the print statement. You will also continue to use 64-bit signed integers as the sole value type.
The main extensions from lab 1 are as follows;
• Variable declarations are now allowed to occur anywhere in the body of a function, not just at the
start of the function.
• Variable initializers are allowed to be any expression—not just 0—that can be built using the variables that have been declared earlier.
The complete grammar of BX is shown in figure 1. Note that every occurrence of text in quotes—things
like “this”—will represent a single token that is generated by the lexer. The grammar is also presented
in extended BNF as described in the lecture 2.
The table in figure 2 lists the operators, their arities, and their precedence values. Note that operators
with higher precedence bind tighter, so 1 + 2 * 3 would implicitly stand for 1 + (2 * 3) and not (1
+ 2) * 3.
3 TASK: LEXER
To turn a BX source file into a sequence of tokens, you must write a lexical scanner. If you are using
Python/PLY, this is achieved using the ply.lex module. As explained in the lecture, this amounts to
performing the following:
1. Define a tuple called tokens that contains all the token categories (PLY calls them types). Each
token category is just an ordinary Python string that, by convention, is in UPPERCASE.
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⟨program⟩ ::= “def” “main” “(” “)” “{” ⟨stmt⟩

“}”
⟨stmt⟩ ::= ⟨vardecl⟩ | ⟨assign⟩ | ⟨print⟩
⟨vardecl⟩ ::= “var” IDENT “=” ⟨expr⟩ “:” “int” “;”
⟨assign⟩ ::= IDENT “=” ⟨expr⟩ “;”
⟨print⟩ ::= “print(” ⟨expr⟩ “)” “;”
⟨expr⟩ ::= IDENT | NUMBER
| ⟨expr⟩ “+” ⟨expr⟩ | ⟨expr⟩ “-” ⟨expr⟩
| ⟨expr⟩ “*” ⟨expr⟩ | ⟨expr⟩ “/” ⟨expr⟩ | ⟨expr⟩ “%” ⟨expr⟩
| ⟨expr⟩ “&” ⟨expr⟩ | ⟨expr⟩ “|” ⟨expr⟩ | ⟨expr⟩ “^” ⟨expr⟩
| ⟨expr⟩ “<<” ⟨expr⟩ | ⟨expr⟩ “>>” ⟨expr⟩
| “-” ⟨expr⟩ | “~” ⟨expr⟩
| “(” ⟨expr⟩ “)”
IDENT ::≈ /[A-Za-z][A-Za-a0-9_]*/ (except reserved words)
NUMBER ::≈ /0|[1-9][0-9]*/ (value must fit in 63 bits)
Figure 1: Grammar of the straightline fragment of BX. Whitespace and line comments are ignored.
operator description arity associativity precedence
| bitwise or binary left 10
^ bitwise xor binary left 20
& bitwise and binary left 30
<<, >> bitwise shifts binary left 40
+ ,- addition, subtraction binary left 50
*, /, % multiplication, division, modulus binary left 60
– integer negation unary – 70
~ bitwise complement unary – 80
Figure 2: BX operator properties. Operators with higher precedence value bind tighter.
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2. For every token that doesn’t have a payload—i.e., everything but identifiers and numbers—write
a Python variable definition whose name is the name of the token category, prefixed with t_, and
whose value is a regular expression string that matches the token.
3. For every token with a payload, write a Python function definition with a name prefixed with t_.
The regular expression that matches the token will be given in the documentation string of the
function, which is the first string that occurs in the body of the function. This function will have
a single parameter that represents the token object. You can add a payload to the token object my
modifying its .value attribute, and even change the token category by modifying its .type attribute.
After suitably modifying the token object, you should then return it; not returning anything from
the token function is equivalent to ignoring the token.
4. Any characters that must be filtered out of the input can be specified with the special variable definition t_ignore, which is an ordinary Python string. Any character that occurs in it is ignored.
5. The special token function t_error(t) can be used to handle illegal characters in the input.
The minimum information per token that is needed to create useful error messages is the character
offset, which you can obtain with the .lexpos attribute of the token object. This is automatically managed
for you by PLY. It is up to you whether you want to track line number information as well in the lexer. An
example of how to do this is in the PLY documentation.
4 TASK: PARSER
To build the parser you should use the ply.yacc module fo PLY as explained in the lecture. This requires
the following steps.
1. Make sure that the tokens list, tokens, is visible at the top level of the Python file where you write
the Parser. You may need a suitable import statement.
2. The parser is defined using functions that begin with p_. Each such parser function corresponds
to one (or more) productions of the BX grammar. The parser function also has a single argument,
p, that represents an enumeration of the components of the production, with p[0] standing for the
left hand side of the production and p[1], p[2], … standing for the right and sides.
Each parser function must finish by defining p[0] in terms of p[1], p[2], …. It is pointless to
return anything from parser functions as all such returned values are ignored by PLY.
3. The precedence table for operators is specified using the precedence tuple, which lists the associativity and precedence groups of operator tokens in the order of increasing precedence. An example
was given in lecture 2.
4. The special error parser function p_error can be used to detect parse errors in the token stream.
As usual, you should read the detailed documentation about PLY parsers.
Extended BNF The grammar of BX in figure 1 uses the extended BNF notation ⟨stmt⟩

to denote
a sequence of zero or more ⟨stmt⟩s. This operator is not present as is in PLY and needs to be encoded
specially. In the general case, suppose you want to parse a production such as the following:
⟨a⟩ ::= ⟨b⟩

In PLY, this can be done succinctly by using the isomorphism ⟨b⟩
∗ ≡ ϵ | ⟨b⟩

⟨b⟩.
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def p_a(p):
“””a : bstar”””
p[0] = p[1]
def p_bstar(p):
“””bstar :
| bstar b”””
if len(p) == 1: # empty case
p[0] = []
else: # nonempty case
p[0] = p[1]
p[0].append(p[2])
The other extended BNF operators can be handled in a similar way by making use of the equivalences
⟨b⟩
+ ≡ ⟨b⟩ | ⟨b⟩
+
⟨b⟩ and ⟨b⟩
? ≡ ϵ | ⟨b⟩. In all these cases since the choices on the right have different
lengths, you can us len(p) to find out which choice was matched by the parser.
Note that it would also have been OK to use the isomorphism ⟨b⟩
∗ ≡ ϵ | ⟨b⟩⟨b⟩

to define p_bstar,
but in this case we would have to use prepending to a list to update p[0]. Prepending in Python is an
O(n) operation, while the .append() function takes O(1) time (amortized).
5 TASK: SYNTAX CHECKING
The following checks should be performed on the output of the parser to make sure that the syntactic
constraints of BX are respected.
1. There must be a single function named main with no arguments and no return type.
2. Every statement must be syntactically correct, meaning:
• For assignments, the LHS should be a variable declared earlier, and the RHS should be a syntactically correct expression.
• For print statements, the argument should be a syntactically correct expression.
• For variable declarations, the variable must not already be declared, and the initial value
should be a syntactically correct expression (without the variable currently being defined in
scope).
3. For expressions:
• Every variable already be declared with an earlier variable declaration.
• Every number must fit in 63 bits, i.e., its value needs to be in [0, 2
63).
6 DELIVERABLES
You are given the file cse302_lab2_starter.zip consisting of:
• A collection of correct examples in the examples/
• A regression suite in regression/ which consists of files that have lexing, parsing, or syntactic correctness errors. All of these files should be rejected. (Note: you should not rely on these tests to
catch all your bugs. Write your own tests as well!)
• An updated tac2asm.py and the PLY library (in the py/ subdirectory).
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You must deliver a frontend pass as a program called bx2tac.py that will read the BX source file specified
in the command line and will output a TAC program in JSON format, just like in lab 1.
$ python3 bx2tac.py program.bx # produces program.tac.json
You should build on the ast2tac program you wrote in lab 1. You should be able to reuse most of the
code with very trivial modifications. In particular, there should be only minimal changes needed in the
class hierarchy for representing the AST.
If the input program has errors, your program should output an error message such as:
$ python3 bx2tac.py regression/duplicate_vardecl.bx
regression/duplicate_vardecl.bx:line 6:Error:Duplicate declaration of variable “x”
regression/duplicate_vardecl.bx:line 3:Info:Earlier declaration of “x”
You have considerable freedom in the format of these error messages. You may choose to mimic the error
message format of your favorite compiler. The example messages above are inspired by those of GCC. In
case a BX program cannot be processed by your frontend, it should exit with an exit code of 1 (i.e., using
sys.exit(1)) – after printing any error messages to the standard output.
To get an A in this lab your frontend should successfully and correctly compile every valid program
that fits the grammar of figure 1, and reject every program that doesn’t. For an A+, you must additionally
produce a useful error message that identifies at least the line number of the first error in the file. The line
number needs to be reasonably accurate; for instance, if the error occurs in a statement that begins in line
10, the error message should not mention a line number earlier than 10.
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