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An esoteric programming language designed to contain as few instructions as possible.
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An esoteric programming language designed to contain as few instructions as possible.


Macaroni has two types:

  • Numbers, which are represented as 64-bit floating point internally.

  • Arrays, which can contain other arrays or numbers.

However, it also has:

  • "Strings," which are just arrays of numbers. The only place that Macaroni distinguishes between "strings" and arrays is in the I/O operators (print and read) and base operators (tobase and frombase).

  • Some operators accept labels and expect them to set the _ variable before returning. These are used as a primitive form of "blocks" or "subroutines."


Macaroni has all of 25 operators.

Number operators

  • nn -> n: add
  • nn -> n: multiply
  • n -> n: floor
  • nn -> n: pow
  • nn -> a: tobase (*returns an array-"string")

Array operators

  • al -> a: sort
  • aa -> a: concat
  • an -> a: each (a la Ruby each_cons, each_slice if arg. negative)
  • al -> a: map
  • al -> a: index (indeces)
  • annn -> a: slice (a la Python a[b:c:d])
  • a -> n: length
  • a -> a: transpose
  • an -> a: flatten (0 = completely flatten)
  • an -> n: frombase (*for array-"strings" only)

Other operators

  • * -> a: wrap (in array)
  • a -> *: unwrap
  • a -> -: print
  • - -> a: read (a single line, from STDIN)
  • - -> n: rand ([0,1))
  • - -> n: time
  • v* -> -: set
  • l -> -: label
  • l -> -: goto
  • - -> -: return


The syntax of Macaroni is similar to many other languages, in that operators are called in prefix notation. In prefix notation, the name of the operator comes first, then the arguments. For example, func(arg1, arg2).

However, the way Macaroni calls operators is slightly more unique. Each operator has a defined arity, which is simply the number of arguments it expects. This eliminates the need for parentheses. So, instead of saying add(1, mult(2, 3)), you would just say add 1 mult 2 3.

Since each operator has its own arity, there is no ambiguity with this syntax, and a simple recursive parser can be used.

Common operations / combinations

Since Macaroni only has 25 operators, naturally there are tons of them that have been left out. Here are some implementations of common functions that you would expect to find in other languages.

  • Absolute value of x

      map slice " " 0 x 1 a return
      label a set x multiply x -1 return

    A cleverer version that squares and then square roots the number:

      pow pow x 2 pow 2 -1
  • x modulo y (using a formula found on Wikipedia)

      add x multiply -1 multiply y floor multiply x pow y -1
  • A "while loop" ("calls" func while x is equal to 0)

      label loop
              map slice " " x add x 1 1 func
      label func <stuff> return

Why "macaroni"?

Macaroni's control flow is done entirely through gotos. The name "Macaroni" is simply a spin-off of the aptly-named "spaghetti code."

Contributing / credits

If you would like to contribute to Macaroni or suggest ideas, feel free to either open an issue / pull request here on Github or ping me @Doorknob in The Nineteenth Byte, the Stack Exchange chatroom for PPCG.

Huge thanks to @BlacklightShining for tons of help with implementing the language and spending their time to save waaaay more of mine (while teaching me lots and lots about how Rust works in the process). :)

Also, thanks to the #rust IRC channel for being awesome as always.

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