Sunday, January 11, 2015

Exegesis, literate programming, and Decl

The basic outline of Decl's new syntax parser is complete and passing tests, and as always when a milestone is reached and I look around the corner at what's next, I'm a little overwhelmed. It makes me philosophical.

My initial Marpa NLP article was actually a very simple exegetical analysis of a prototype script I wrote myself, and as usual when doing a first stab, I ended up writing a lot of special-case code and syntax to handle things, representing a technical debt that in such situations nearly always strangles its host. Fortunately, I iterated quickly this time, taking the insights from that and putting them into a new Decl-based plan.

Slowly, I'm feeling my way towards a Decl-based system for literate-style transformational exegesis, one that I hope will eventually encompass everything this blog has been about.

The advantage to basing everything on Decl is that parsing is done. I can now parse a very rich, informationally dense data structure that is designed right from the start to group things in more or less the same way natural language does. It's easily extended and configured, easily indexed - in short, it's a way of taking notes about program structure and using them to evolve a program.

So that's where I'm going. Very slowly.

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