Implicitly Heterogeneous Multi-stage Programming

Implicitly Heterogeneous Multi-stage Programming. Jason Eckhardt, Roumen Kaiabachev, Emir Pasalic, Kedar Swadi and Walid Taha

Previous work on semantics-based multi-stage programming (MSP) language design focused on homogeneous languages designs, where the generating and the generated languages are the same. Homogeneous designs simply add a hygienic quasi-quotation and evaluation mechanism to a base language. An apparent disadvantage of this approach is that the programmer is bound to both expressivity and performance charcteristics of the base language. This paper proposes a practical means to show that this can be avoided by providing specialized translations from subsets of the base language to different target languages.

The idea is that the first stage is done in OCaml and the second stage in C or Fortran (or other similar language). The main point is that the output from the first stage is a subset of OCaml (actually, a subset of Ocaml AST), which is more regular and permits efficient translation to C (as compared to what's required in compiling full Ocaml).

The generated C code is, of course, automatically type-correct. As Oleg remarks, this brings us close to the goal of enjoying all benefits of abstractions with no overhead.

More information here.

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Reminds me of PreScheme, a subset of Scheme with the same goal (efficient translation to C) in mind.