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Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools

📅 2019-Oct-17 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 📚 Archive

The first edition of the Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools textbook is popularly known as the red dragon book. This was the compilers textbook I had back in my undergrad. Though this book by Aho, Sethi and Ullman is famous, I do not particularly remember enjoying studying this book in my undergrad. I recently decided to go back and give it another try. Though a second edition was released in 2006, known as the purple dragon book, I decided to stick to the 1986 first edition. At 700+ pages, this book took me a few weeks just to quickly browse through and study whatever I found interesting.

Some of the topics the book covers include:

There is a lot more in the book, but I either skipped over it because I was not interested or just found it difficult to learn. A big problem with this book is that it is theoretical, every chapter feels exactly like reading a survey paper in the field of compilers. All possible methods and data structures are presented, making this not a suitable book for instruction.

What I liked about the book is that it has lots of illustrative examples and lots of figures. It talks about lots of old-timey languages like C, Fortran, and Pascal and old computers, and brings in a lot of language and compiler history. I always relish knowing the history and context in which new inventions were made.

In the final conclusion, I must say that despite all the juicy details of old languages, OSes, tools and computers, the book is still weighed down by not having a clear instructive direction and by its focus on theory.

Rating: 3/4