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The use of grammatical inference for designing programming languages

By S. Crespi-Reghizzi, M. A. Melkanoff, L. Lichten

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 16 No. 2, Pages 83-90

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Both in designing a new programming language and in extending an existing language, the designer is faced with the problem of deriving a “natural” grammar for the language. We are proposing an interactive approach to the grammar design problem wherein the designer presents a sample of sentences and structures as input to a grammatical inference algorithm. The algorithm then constructs a grammar which is a reasonable generalization of the examples submitted by the designer. The implemention is presently restricted to a subclass of operator precedence grammars, but a second algorithm is outlined which applies to a larger class of context-free grammars.

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