Introduction ^

Jako is a simple malleable language. It has very little built-in functionality, but it is very easy to build a reasonable language out of it.

Constructs ^

The basic constructs of Jako are predefined, but the ways in which they combine are programmer-defined.

Words ^

A word is a contiguous string of characters matching the Perl regular expression m/[A-Za-z][A-Za-z0-9_]*/. Words can be used as the names of types, variables and constants, and can also be used as key words.

Symbols ^

Symbols are

Expressions ^

Blocks / Environments ^

A named block can be executed by passing it to eval.

The section "A Mathematical Note" of [MEYER-2001] presents a model of a class as a set of name-value bindings.

Lesson 3, "Semantic Building Blocks" of [MEAD-2001] describes the environment (or context) of a program at a specific point in its execution in a similar way.

A block is an environment. Names not explicitly bound in that environment are implicitly bound if they are explicitly bound in an ancestor environment.

    bind env E word N any V := { E.N = V; }

Blocklists ^

Parentheses are used to delimit blocklists. A parenthetical list of expressions is semantically equivalent to the same number of single-expression blocks, one after the other. That is,

    (a < b, 5, i++)

is exactly the same as

    {a < b} {5} {i++}

Definitions ^


Intrinsic Flow Control Statements ^

if ^

goto ^

    def goto label L := ...

Defining Conventional Constructs ^

Even though Jako doesn't have conventional constructs built-in, it is very easy to define them using the facilities Jako does provide:

Eiffel-like loops ^

Translating from Eiffel notation to a Perl-like notation yields something like this:

    from {...} invariant (...) variant {...} until (...) loop {...} end;

where each {...} represents a block of statements and each (...) represents a single boolean expression.

Since the body of the loop is delimited by the braces, we can get rid of the end keyword:

    from {...} invariant (...) variant {...} until (...) loop {...};

Since we are used to using redo to go back to the top of the loop block and re-do the current iteration, we'll replace loop with do:

    from {...} invariant (...) variant {...} until (...) do {...};

Eiffel's variant clause is equivalent to the Perl continue clause:

    from {...} invariant (...) continue {...} until (...) do {...};

But, we like to see that clause at the end:

    from {...} invariant (...) until (...) do {...} continue {...};

Since we've adopted the Perlish continue in place of variant, now invariant seems out of place, but check seems to fit nicely:

    from {...} check (...) until (...) do {...} continue {...};

while ^

With this Jako definition:

    def while block W ( do? block D ( continue? block C )? )? := {
      var R: typeof(D); # TODO: typeof(D) == block, we want type of *last statement of* D.
      CONT: goto :LAST unless eval W;
      REDO: R = eval D;
      NEXT: eval C;
            goto :CONT;
      LAST: return R;

we can write Perlish while loops:

    i = 0;
    while (x[i] < y[i]) do {
      print "$i\n";
    } continue {

In fact, we can even write very concise while loops, given the optionality of the do and continue blocks and the equivalence of (x;y) to {x} {y}:

    i = 0;
    while (x[i] < y[i]; print "$i\n"; i++);

(which almost looks like a for loop).

for ^

This Jako definition:

    def for block F while? block W continue? block C do? block D := {
      var R: typeof(D); # TODO: typeof(D) == block, we want type of *last statement of* D.
      FOR:  eval F;
      CONT: goto :LAST unless eval W;
      REDO: R = eval D;
      NEXT: eval C;
            goto :CONT;
      LAST: return R;

allows us to write for loops the way we are used to, such as:

    for (i = 0; i < l; i++) { print x[i], "\n" }

which is really shorthand for:

    for { i = 0 } { i < l } { i++ } { print x[i], "\n" }

or, more verbosely:

    for {
      i = 0;
    } while {
      i < l
    } continue {
    } do {
      print x[i], "\n"

redo, next and last ^

We can define the familiar loop control statements given the consistency of label definitions above:

    def redo ( label L )? := {
      goto L:REDO; # if L not given, means "goto :REDO"

    def next ( label L )? := {
      goto L:NEXT; # if L not given, means "goto :NEXT"

    def last ( label L )? := {
      goto L:LAST; # if L not given, means "goto :LAST"

TODO: Allow x = next? -- What would that mean?

if, then, elseif and else ^

    def if block I then? block T ( elsif block EI then? block ET )* (else block E)? := {
      var R: typeof(...);
      IF:    goto +:NEXT unless eval I; # "+" --> forward-only
      REDO:  R = eval T;
             goto +:LAST;
      NEXT:  {
        *:IF:    goto :*:NEXT unless eval *EI;
        *:REDO:  R = eval *ET;
                 goto LAST;
      } over elsif
      REDO:  R = eval E;
      LAST: return R;

Object-Oriented Programming ^

A class is an environment template. An instance is an environment built from such a template. Method application is the execution of code within the instance's environment. For example:

    y = foo.x

means to find 'x' in the environment 'foo' and point 'y' in the current environment at it.

Issues: Multiple inheritance for blocks that represent classes vs. single parents for blocks that represent general code sequences.


    closure : block  ::  instance : class

Instantiation as environment cloning.

self ^

The word 'self' means the enclosing environment (instance, in the case of an object method).

The word 'class' means the enclosing environment's enclosing environment.


    class {
        method x {
                self.y;      # Looks in method
            self.z;          # Looks in instance
        int y;
        int z;

To Do ^

References ^


Mead, Jerud J. and Shende, Anil M. Persuasive Programming, A|B|F Content, Wilsonville, OR, 2001.


Meyer, Bertrand. "Object-Oriented Software Construction, Second Edition," Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997.


Meyer, Bertrand. "Overloading vs. Object Technology," Journal of Object-Oriented Programming, October/November 2001 (Vol 14, No. 4).