The zephyr abstract syntax description language

Daniel C. Wang, Andrew W. Appel, Jeff L. Korn, Christopher S. Serra

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The Zephyr1 Abstract Syntax Description Language (ASDL) describes the abstract syntax of compiler intermediate representations (IRs) and other tree-like data structures. Just as the lexical and syntactic structures of programming languages are described with regular expressions and context free grammars, ASDL provides a concise notation for describing the abstract syntax of programming languages. Tools can convert ASDL descriptions into the appropriate data-structure definitions and functions to convert the data-structures to or from a standard flattened representation. This makes it easier to build compiler components that interoperate. Although ASDL lacks subtyping and inheritance, it is able to describe the Stanford University Intermediate Format (SUIF) compiler IR, originally implemented in C++. We have built a tool that converts ASDL into C, C++, Java, and ML data-structure definitions and conversion functions. We have also built a graphical browser-editor of ASDL data structures. ASDL shares features found in many network interface description languages (IDLs), algebraic data types, and languages such as ASN.1 and SGML. Compared to other alternatives ASDL is simple and powerful. This document describes ASDL in detail and presents an initial evaluation ofASDL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 1997
Event1997 Conference on Domain-Specific Languages, DSL 1997 - Santa Barbara, United States
Duration: Oct 15 1997Oct 17 1997


Conference1997 Conference on Domain-Specific Languages, DSL 1997
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Barbara

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software


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