Tyrannical Languages Still Preempt System Design
Authors: Mary Shaw and Wm. A. Wulf
Proc. 1992 International Conference on Computer Languages, IEEE
Press, April 1992.
Language implementors frequently make preemptive decisions concerning
the exact implementations of language features. These decisions
constrain programmers' control over their computations and may tempt
them to write involuted code to obtain special (or efficient) effects.
In many cases, we can distinguish some properties of a language
facility that are essential to the semantics and other properties that
are incidental. Recent abstraction techniques emphasize dealing with
such distinctions by separating the properties that are necessary to
preserve the semantics from the details for which some decisions must
be made but many choices are adequate. We suggest here that these
abstraction techniques can be applied to the problem of preemptive
language decisions by specifying the essential properties of languages
facilities in a skeleton base language and defining interfaces that
will accept a variety of implementations that differ in other details.
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