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imcc is the Intermediate Code Compiler for Parrot.
The language it compiles is currently termed Parrot
Intermediate Language (PIR).

Why? Writing a compiler is a large undertaking. We are trying
to take some of the load off of potential language designers,
including the designers of the Perl6 compiler. We can provide a
common back-end for Parrot that does:

   Register Allocation and Spillage
   Constant folding and expression evaluation
   Instruction selection
   Bytecode generation

This way, language designers can get right to work on

   Tokenizing, parsing, type checking AST/DAG production

Then they can simply feed PIR to imcc which will compile
directly to Parrot bytecode, altogether skipping the reference

So far, all the compiler does (besides translating the PIR to pasm) is
register allocation and spilling. I like Steve Muchnick's MIR language,
and I'm taking a few things from it.

Presently you can write code with unlimited symbolics or named
locals and imcc will translate to pasm.

I expect the IR compiler to be FAST, simple, and maintainable,
and never develop featuritis; however I want it to be adequate
for all languages targetting parrot. Did I mention that it
needs to be FAST?

Register Allocation

  The allocator uses graph-coloring and du-chains to assign registers
  to lexicals and symbolic temporaries. One weakness of the allocator
  is the lack of branch analysis. A brute force method is used in the
  du-chain computation where we assume any symbol is live from the time
  it was first used until either the last time it was used or the last
  branch instruction. This is being replaced with directed graphs of
  basic blocks and flow analysis.


  We break the instructions into a directed graph of basic blocks.
  The plan is to translate to SSA form to make optimizations easier.

Why C and Bison?

  Until Perl6 compiles itself (and does it fast), a Bison parser is
the easiest to maintain. An additional, important benefit, is
C-based parsers are pretty darn fast. Currently assembling
Parrot on the fly is still relatively slow.

More documentation

  s. the docs subdir

Language Reference

Variables, Registers and Constants

  Variables are simple identifiers, anything that is NOT a register
  or constant is a legal identifier. The syntax will have to change
  a bit to support Perl's non-alpha identifiers, which will probably
  spell renaming the registers.

  You may use an infinite number of typed temporaries.
  S=String, I=Int, N=Float, P=Object(or PMC)

   $S0 = 1
   $S1 = $S0 + 2

  You may also define lexicals with the .local directive below
  and use them by name.

   .local int i
   .local int j
   i = 4
   j = i * i

  Assigning to a constant is illegal syntax.


  For this reference, I use the following legend:
    reg = A symbolic temporary ($S0, $I25)
    var = A named variable or symbol (i, foo, myArray)
    IDENTIFIER = An optionally quoted name
    lval = reg | var
    rval = reg | var | const

    lval is allowed as targets of instructions, but not constants,
    so we refer to operands on the right side as rvals. lvals
    are also used on the right hand side to indicate that the
    item can be a const or non-const token.

  These are tokens that might not directly translate to a specific
  opcode, and are intentionally left generic. Some of them aren't
  ops at all, but instructions to the compiler.

   .sym <type> <IDENTIFIER>

   .sub <IDENTIFIER>

   .local <type> <IDENTIFIER>

   .return '(' <rval> ')'

   .param <type> <lval>




  Assignments, calls, branches, etc. Simplified forms of lower
  level operations. Typically is 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 instruction to
  Parrot ratio.

   lval = rval

   lval = rval + rval

   lval = rval - rval

   lval = rval * rval

   lval = rval / rval

   lval = rval % rval

   lval = rval << rval

   lval = rval >> rval

   <S.lval> = <S.rval> . <S.rval>

  For array and string access you can use:

   <S.lval|P.lval> [ rval ] = rval

   lval = <S.lval|P.lval> [ rval ]

   <P.lval> = new <TYPE>

   dec <lval>

   inc <lval>


   goto <LABEL>

   if <expression> goto <LABEL>

   print rval

Instructions not known to imcc are looked up in parrot's
op_info_table and must have the proper amount and types of

The best way to learn PIR quickly is to study the output
of other compilers that use it (Perl6 and Cola), and
consult the source file imcc.y.

Please mail with bug-reports or patches.

Original Author:

Melvin Smith <>, <>

Active Maintainer:

Leopold Toetsch <>

Contributing Authors:

Angel Faus <> ... CFG, life analysis
Sean O'Rourke <>   ... anyop, iANY
Leopold Toetsch <>  ... major rewrite
                                     numerous bugfixes/cleanup/rewrite
                                     run parrot code inside imcc
Juergen Boemmels <> Macro preprocessor

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