# What can we do about the unnecessary diversity of notation for syntactic definitions?

@article{Wirth1977WhatCW, title={What can we do about the unnecessary diversity of notation for syntactic definitions?}, author={Niklaus Wirth}, journal={Commun. ACM}, year={1977}, volume={20}, pages={822-823} }

The population of programming languages is steadily growing, and there is no end of this growth in sight. Many language definitions appear in journals, many are found in technical reports, and perhaps an even greater number remains confined to proprietory circles. After frequent exposure to these definitions, one cannot fail to notice the lack of “common denominators.” The only widely accepted fact is that the language structure is defined by a syntax. But even notation for syntactic…

## Topics from this paper

## 256 Citations

BNF was here: what have we done about the unnecessary diversity of notation for syntactic definitions

- Computer ScienceSAC '12
- 2012

An approach to solve the diversity problem by providing a way to quickly and concisely specify all the parameters of a syntactic notation and the resulting "meta-ebnf" language was used to successfully recover many grammars from sources that use different syntactic notations.

How to define a language using PROLOG

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- 1982

The present paper attempts to give an overview of this method in the form of a practical guide to writing a language definition, which includes the context sensitive syntax, and semantics using denotational, relational or axiomatic methods.

A standard syntactic metalanguage

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- 1982

This article is a general guide and explains some of the background and defines a new standard syntactic metalanguage, which is useful not only for the syntax of programming command languages, but whenever a formally defined syntax is required~ e.g. the format for references in scientific reports.

A Flexible Notation for Syntactic Definitions

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A notation is presented here which is both simple and versatile and which has additional benefits when specifying the static semantic rules of a language.

A human engineered variant of BNF

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A very simple, human engineered variant of BNF that satisfies the following criteria: the absence of angle brackets, and the use of prettyprinting to display logical structure.

Electronic Communications of the EASST Volume 49 ( 2012 ) Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Bidirectional Transformations ( BX 2012 ) Language Evolution , Metasyntactically

- 2012

Currently existing syntactic definitions employ many different notations (usually dialects of EBNF) with slight deviations among them, which prevent efficient automated processing. When changes in…

Language Evolution, Metasyntactically

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- 2012

This paper explains the general setup of such an infrastructure, with links to the prototypical implementation of the solution, and relies on composing a notation specification and expressing notation changes as transformations of that specification.

Notation-parametric grammar recovery

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- 2012

This paper focuses on automated grammar recovery from sources that utilise a family of metasyntaxes known as EBNF: many language specifications extend the well-studied Backus Naur Form in different directions, resulting in unnecessary diversity of syntactic notations.

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- Computer ScienceInf. Syst.
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Using this language, solutions can be suggested for some example stock-control problems which are difficult to handle in a purely non-procedural way.

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