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A compiler written as part of the project of CS241 class at UC Irvine
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tests Add a directory for tests, which currently contain only some failing …
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NOTES.rst Update notes about DOT and VCG.
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TODO.rst Declare TODO file dead, using github issue tracker instead! :P Handle the CMP instruction code generator when the destination operan… Instructions live ranges is now set, not ranges, so print the whole set. Handle ELF generator for the cases when there are no global variables.
firsttest.pl241 Add an if block within a loop just for the sake of testing.
firsttestanothersyntaxerror.pl241 Fix the syntax error in the firstfile and create other files for test…
firsttestsyntaxerror.pl241 Fix the syntax error in the firstfile and create other files for test… We should not create an extra end node, if it is already created. Process the globally addressed SIBs in the linker to set the proper d… Case where we don't optimize for CMP is not a case of dead code, so d… Parse negations and if the negated value is a number, directly store …
pl241c Rename the bootstrap script to not contain an extension. Don't define the instruction bytes repetitively, reuse previously def… When the phi result is not used anywhere completely get rid of the ph… The variable is assumed to exist for the first time, so if is not use… Add function to test dominator frontier. Re-implement the whole optimization code as a class and add one more … Change the test function name to have sat solver and not bool sat :) Correctly encode instructions with immediate operands, esp in cases w…


PL241 Compiler

** Work In Progress **

Transparency about my course work: When you are reading the document below if you by any chance get into the feeling that I am trying to take advantage of the open source community for my course work, please come back and read this again. Initially my thought was to keep all the course work specific code in a separate private branch, which I would not push to this repository. The reason for that was, that branch had some materials that are totally irrelevant in public like my progress report, etc. But with this private branch approach, it looks like it is hard to convince open source contributors that I am not trying to get the grades from their work. So I have decided to make the branch public here and the branch is called course-specific. I will be merging course-specific branch to master whenever there is something relevant to master committed to that branch but in the other direction I will only cherry-pick my changes from master to course-specific.

What is this all about?

This is a very humble attempt to implement a compiler in Python. Prof. Michael Franz ( offers a graduate level course at University of California, Irvine, on Advanced Compiler Construction ( This compiler is being written as part of the course work. Although I have a very limited knowledge about compiler construction, I believe that this compiler implements some of the most basic components that are expected of any reasonable compiler today.

While implementing this compiler I stumbled upon certain interesting concepts in compiler construction. I could not find simple and quickly understandable materials for many of them. In most cases it boiled down to reading the original papers that introduced the idea, toiling for days to understand how the concepts introduced in the paper worked before actually sitting down to implement that concept. I hope that I can be of some help to others who are trying to do the same. So while implementing these algorithms I have spent good amount of time to make the code as readable as possible And what more, it is written in Python! What is more readable than Python anyway!?

I would really like to make this a repository of algorithms that are used in writing compilers today. So if you would like to use these algorithms or think you can improve them further, fork it away! And if you want to push those changes back to this repository, I will be happy to merge the pull requests!

What is the status? Is this compiler complete?

The compiler compiles the code to x86_64 binary. But the compiler in place is only a very basic version. There is so much more to do. If you are interested in contributing, please contact one of the authors.

Which programming languages is this compiler written for?

As it is required for the course, at the moment this compiler is planned to compile only PL241. I am not sure about the copyrights of the Professor's material to put the language spec here. So the document that contains the spec for the language is available from the Professor's website at

In the future I would like to make this a compiler collection for major languages.

What are the target architectures to which this compiler generates binaries?

Only x86_64 is planned at the moment. Most ideally I would like to see how this runs on RISC architectures like ARM.

What additional libraries are required to run this compiler?

Since the register allocator is implemeted using an off-the-shelf SAT solver (which is hard coded to be glucose at the moment, you will have to download the source code from glucose's website: and compile the source. The binary should be available on your system path and with the exact name glucose_static.

Other than this and the standard Python 2.7 installation, you will not want any additional libraries. Deliberate care has been taken not to use any other third-party libraries. However, since argparse is used for command line parsing, Python 2.6 or earlier doesn't work. But argparse component can be very easily replaced with the older optparse library code which is at the end of each file in the bootstrap() function.

This code has not been tested on Python 3.x.

How to compile the code?

The source program can be compiled by running the following command:

$ [options] <source-file-name>

The options available at the moment are:

usage: [-h] [-a] [--cfg] [--interferencevcg] [--optimized]
                 [--optimizedvcg] [-p] [-r] [--regassigned] [-s] [--ssavcg]
                 [-t] [--virtualreg] [--virtualregvcg]
                 File Names [File Names ...]

Compiler arguments.

positional arguments:
  File Names          name of the input files.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help          show this help message and exit
  -a, --dumpall       Dump all the intermediate files and graphsgenerated.
  --cfg               Generate the Visualization Compiler Graph output of the
                      Control Flow Graph.
  --interferencevcg   Generate the Visualization Compiler Graph of the
                      interference graph.
  --optimized         Generates the ouput of the optimizer.
  --optimizedvcg      Generate the Visualization Compiler Graph output of the
                      optimized SSA.
  -p, --parsetreevcg  Generate the Visualization Compiler Graph output of the
                      parse tree.
  -r, --ir            Generate the Intermediate Representation.
  --regassigned       Generate the instructions with registers and phi
                      functions resolved.
  -s, --ssa           Generate the Static Single Assignment.
  --ssavcg            Generate the Visualization Compiler Graph output of the
                      SSA form.
  -t, --dom           Generate the Dominator Tree VCG output.
  --virtualreg        Allocate registers in the virtual space of infinite
  --virtualregvcg     Generate the Visualization Compiler Graph for the
                      virtual registers allocated and liveness computed for
                      the subgraphs.

For convenience, 3 test programs are supplied along with the source of which two of them intentionally include syntax errors. firsttest.pl241 is expected to generate binary.

What are the things that this compiler does?

The the source program is parsed and translated to an Intermediate Representation (IR) and then transformed again to Static Single Assignment (SSA) form. A few very simple yet powerful optimizations: Common Sub-expression Elimination, Copy Propagation and Constant Folding are implemented. A register allocator is implemented using an off-the-shelf SAT solver called GLUCOSE. Then the program is deconstructed out of SSA form and x86_64 machine code is generated from those instructions.

What algorithms are implemented?

  • The parser is a home-brewn solution. It doesn't use lex and yacc, however it does make use of regular expressions.
  • "A Fast Algorithm for Finding Dominators in a Flowgraph" by T. Lengauer and R. E. Tarjan
  • "Efficiently Computing Static Single Assignment Form and the Control Dependence Graph" by R. Cytron, J. Ferrante, B. K. Rosen, M. N. Wegman and F. K. Zadeck


As mentioned in the previous sections it will be nice to see at least the following implemented

  • Parsing major programming languages
  • Generating binaries for ARM
  • Various optimization algorithms
  • Instruction scheduling
  • Various types of register allocation algorithms

If you are interested in contributing, send the pull requests!

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