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6 PAUSE user(s)
1 non-PAUSE user(s).

Jeffrey Kegler

NAME

Marpa::XS::Grammar - Marpa grammars

SYNOPSIS

    my $grammar = Marpa::XS::Grammar->new(
        {   start   => 'Expression',
            actions => 'My_Actions',
            default_action => 'first_arg',
            rules   => [
                { lhs => 'Expression', rhs => [qw/Term/] },
                { lhs => 'Term', rhs => [qw/Factor/] },
                { lhs => 'Factor', rhs => [qw/Number/] },
                { lhs => 'Term', rhs => [qw/Term Add Term/], action => 'do_add' },
                {   lhs    => 'Factor',
                    rhs    => [qw/Factor Multiply Factor/],
                    action => 'do_multiply'
                },
            ],
        }
    );

    $grammar->precompute();

DESCRIPTION

To create a Marpa grammar object, use the new method. Rules and symbols may be specified when the grammar is created.

To change a Marpa grammar object, use the set method. New rules may be added until a grammar is precomputed.

A grammar cannot be used for parsing until it is precomputed. To precompute a Marpa grammar object, use the precompute method. After precomputation, no new rules may added and most other changes are forbidden.

Symbol names

Symbol names that end in right square brackets are reserved for Marpa's internal use. Any other valid Perl string is an acceptable symbol name.

Terminal symbols

If a grammar has no empty rules, all symbols are terminals by default. Unlike most parser generators, Marpa will allow terminals to appear on the left hand side of rules. Marpa defines a terminal as a symbol which is valid as an input token symbol.

Marpa allows direct marking of terminals using the terminals named argument, and the terminal property. If any terminal is directly marked, only directly marked symbols will be terminals.

Marpa's behavior can be changed by unsetting the lhs_terminals named argument. When the lhs_terminals named argument is unset, only symbols which do not appear on the LHS of a rule can be terminals. If no symbols are directly marked, Marpa will implicitly mark all the non-LHS symbols as terminals.

Marpa is stricter for grammars with empty rules -- it does not allow them to take the default. There is an efficiency hit whenever the LHS of an empty rule is a terminal as well, so Marpa does not allow this to happen by default -- the user has to be explicitly indicate that that is what she wants. If a grammar has any empty rules, it must either directly mark its terminals, or must unset the lhs_terminals named argument.

One advantage of not taking the default is efficiency. Precomputation is faster for grammars which mark their terminals. Also, the recognizer checks that input tokens are terminals, so that being selective about which symbols are terminals and which are not can allow better input checking.

Summary

The following summarizes the logic which determines whether a symbol S is terminal. As a reminder, a symbol is said to be directly marked as a terminal if it is one of the symbols in the terminals named argument, or if the symbol has the terminal property set.

  • If any symbol is directly marked as a terminal, then a symbol S is a terminal if and only if it is also directly marked as a terminal.

  • If no symbol is directly marked as a terminal, and the lhs_terminals named argument is unset, then all non-LHS symbols are terminals.

  • If the grammar contains no empty rules, no symbol is directly marked as a terminal, and the lhs_terminals named argument is set or left at its default, then all symbols are terminals.

  • The only case not covered above is that in which a grammar contains one or more empty rules, no symbol is directly marked as a terminal, and the lhs_terminals named argument is set or left at its default. This is a fatal error.

Sequence rules

It is very common in a grammar for one symbol to produce a repeating sequence. Marpa allows a shorthand for this: sequence rules. The RHS of a sequence rule will be repeated, as specified by the min rule property. In sequence rules the RHS must always be one symbol in length, and that symbol may not be a nullable symbol.

A rule is a sequence rule if the min rule property is defined. min can be 0 or 1, and specifies the minimum number of times that the sequence is allowed to repeat. As of this writing, the maximum number of repetitions is always infinite.

    { lhs => 'sequence', rhs => ['item'], min => 0 }

A min of zero indicates a sequence that repeats zero or more times. This is the equivalent of using the star quantifier ("*") in the standard regular expression notation.

    { lhs => 'sequence', rhs => ['item'], min => 1 }

A min of one indicates a sequence that repeats one or more times. This is the equivalent of using the plus quantifier ("+") in the standard regular expression notation.

Sequences can have a separator, specified with the separator rule property. By default, separation is Perl-style: trailing separators are allowed. In "proper" separation, a separator must actually separate two sequence items and therefore is not allowed after the last item of a sequence. If you prefer "proper" separation, you can set the proper rule property.

Advantages of sequence rules

You are never forced to use sequence rules, but it's usually better if you do. When a sequence is written as a sequence rule, Marpa optimizes it.

When a sequence is written using non-sequence rules, the semantics typically wind up being spread over two or three Perl closures. The semantic action for a sequence rule is a single Perl closure. Putting the semantics into a single Perl closure often results in simpler and more natural code. See the section on sequences in the semantics document.

Caveats

Marpa throws an exception if you try to use a nullable symbol as the right hand side of a sequence rule, or as the separator for a sequence rule. The ban on nullables in sequences only applies to sequences when they are written using sequence rules. Nothing prevents you from specifying a sequence of nullables using non-sequence rules. But usually there is no good reason to do this, and sequences of nullable can be highly ambiguous, which makes them a good thing to avoid for efficiency reasons.

To keep things simple, the right hand side of a sequence rule must be a single symbol. Of course, applications will often want to repeat sequences of multiple symbols. That is easy to do indirectly:

    { lhs => 'sequence', rhs => [qw(item)], min => 0 },
    { lhs => 'item', rhs => [qw(part1 part2)], },

CONSTRUCTOR

new

    my $grammar = Marpa::XS::Grammar->new(
        {   start   => 'Expression',
            actions => 'My_Actions',
            default_action => 'first_arg',
            rules   => [
                { lhs => 'Expression', rhs => [qw/Term/] },
                { lhs => 'Term', rhs => [qw/Factor/] },
                { lhs => 'Factor', rhs => [qw/Number/] },
                { lhs => 'Term', rhs => [qw/Term Add Term/], action => 'do_add' },
                {   lhs    => 'Factor',
                    rhs    => [qw/Factor Multiply Factor/],
                    action => 'do_multiply'
                },
            ],
        }
    );

Marpa::XS::Grammar::new returns a new Marpa grammar object or throws an exception. The arguments to Marpa::XS::Grammar::new are references to hashes of named arguments. In each key/value pair of this hash, the hash key is the argument name and the hash value is the value of the named argument. The available named arguments are described below.

MUTATORS

precompute

    $grammar->precompute();

The precompute method compiles data structures that the recognizer will need. It returns the grammar object or throws an exception.

set

    $grammar->set( { trace_file_handle => $trace_fh } );

The arguments to the set method are references to hashes of named arguments. The available named arguments are described below. set either returns true or throws an exception.

ACCESSORS

check_terminal

Returns a Perl true when its argument is the name of a terminal symbol. Otherwise, returns a Perl false. Not often needed, but a lexer may find this the most convenient way to determine if a symbol is a terminal.

TRACE ACCESSORS

show_AHFA

    print $grammar->show_AHFA()
        or die "print failed: $ERRNO";

Not of interest to most users. Returns a multi-line string listing the states of an internal data structure called the Aycock-Horspool Finite Automaton. Not useful before the grammar is precomputed.

show_problems

    print $grammar->show_problems()
        or die "print failed: $ERRNO";

Usually the application does not call this method directly. Returns a string describing any serious but non-fatal problems a grammar had in the precomputation phase. A serious problem is one that will prevent parsing. Warnings are not serious problems in this sense. If there were no serious problems, returns a string saying so. This method is not useful before precomputation.

In Marpa, most serious grammar problems are not immediately thrown as exceptions. This is because there can be a number of serious problems in a grammar, particularly one that is large or in an early draft. If each serious problem caused an immediate exception, the user would have to fix them one at a time -- very tedious.

The recognizer throws an exception when the user attempts to create a parse from a grammar with serious problems. When that happens, the string returned by show_problems is part of the error message.

show_rules

    print $grammar->show_rules()
        or die "print failed: $ERRNO";

Returns a string listing the rules. Each rule is shown with comments which indicate either rule properties or internal settings. show_rules is useful in debugging grammars.

Marpa does extensive rewriting of its grammars, and both the original rules and the rewritten rules appear in the show_rules list. When a rule is rewritten, the original rule is often not used. In that case, "!used" will be one of the comments for the original rule. The "!used" comment also marks rules not used for reasons other than rewrites. For example, inaccessible and unproductive rules are also marked "!used".

The "discard_sep" comment indicates that the rule discards separators This is only relevant in sequence rules. Other comments indicate whether rules were nullable, unproductive, inaccessible, or empty.

The vlhs, vrhs and real comments show rule settings relevant in tracking "virtual" internal symbols. These are used internally, to optimize evaluation.

show_symbols

    print $grammar->show_symbols()
        or die "print failed: $ERRNO";

Returns a string listing the symbols, along with comments indicating whether they were terminal, nulling, nullable, unproductive or inaccessible. Also shown is a list of rules with that symbol on the left hand side, and a list of rules which have that symbol anywhere on the right hand side. Useful for debugging grammars.

NAMED ARGUMENTS

action_object

The action_object named argument specifies a class name to be used in resolving action names to Perl closures. A new constructor must be defined in the action_object package. It will be used to create the per-parse-tree variables. Details are in the document on semantics.

actions

            actions => 'My_Actions',

The actions named argument specifies the Perl package that Marpa will use when resolving action names to Perl closures. If both an actions named argument and an action_object named argument are specified, the package from the actions named argument is the only one used to resolve action names. The actions package is treated only as a package, and not as a class. Any new constructor in the actions package is ignored. Details are given in the document on semantics.

default_action

            default_action => 'first_arg',

The default_action named argument specifies the value action name for rules without an action property. Details are given in the document on semantics.

default_null_value

The default_null_value named argument specifies the null value for symbols without a null_value property. Details are given in the document on semantics.

inaccessible_ok

The value must be a reference to an array of symbol names. By default, Marpa warns if a symbol is inaccessible, but the warning is suppressed for any symbol named in the array. Setting the inaccessible_ok named argument after grammar precomputation is useless, and itself results in a warning.

Inaccessible symbols are symbols which cannot be derived from the start symbol, and which therefore can never be part of a successful parse. Inaccessible symbols often indicate errors in grammar design. But a user may have plans for these symbols, may wish to keep them as notes, or may simply wish to deal with them later.

infinite_action

Takes as its value a string specifying what Marpa should do if it discovers that its grammar is infinitely ambiguous. The value must be one of "fatal", "warn" or "quiet". A grammar is infinitely ambiguous if there is some input for which it produces an endless number of parses.

If the value is "fatal", Marpa throws an exception when it encounters an infinitely ambiguous grammar. This is the default and will usually be what the user wants. In most cases, an infinitely ambiguous grammar is simply a mistake.

"quiet" indicates that the user wants to allow infinitely ambiguous grammars. "warn" indicates that the user wants to allow infinitely ambiguous grammars, but wants a warning message to be printed to the trace file handle.

lhs_terminals

The value of the lhs_terminals named argument is a Boolean. If true, symbols which appear on the LHS of a rule are allowed to be terminals. lhs_terminals is true by default.

If lhs_terminals is unset and no symbols are directly marked as terminals, Marpa will mark all non-LHS symbols as terminals. If any symbol is directly marked, all terminals must be directly marked. If lhs_terminals is unset, but some symbols are directly marked, it is a fatal error for a terminal to appear on the LHS of a rule. For more, see the discussion of terminals above.

rules

The value of the rules named argument is a reference to an array of rule descriptors. The rules named argument may be specified multiple times, adding new rules to the grammar each time. New rules may be added until the grammar is precomputed. The format of rule descriptors is explained below.

start

    start => 'Expression',

The value of the start named argument must be a symbol name. It will be used as the start symbol for the grammar. The start named argument is required.

symbols

The value of the symbols named arguments must be a reference to a hash. In each key/value pair of this hash, the hash key is the symbol property name and the hash value is the symbol descriptor. Symbol descriptors are described below.

Note that the value of symbols named argument is a hash, but the value of the rules named argument is an array. This is because symbol names make convenient hash keys. For rules, there is no equally natural choice for a hash key.

terminals

The value of the terminals named argument must be a reference to an array of symbol names. Specifying a symbol's name in a terminals named argument is one way of directly marking it as a terminal. See the discussion of terminals above.

trace_file_handle

The value is a file handle. Trace output and warning messages go to the trace file handle. By default the trace file handle is STDERR.

trace_rules

Traces rules as they are added to the grammar. Useful, but you will usually prefer the show_rules method. A trace_rules setting becomes effective within the named argument hash which sets it. A trace message warns the user if he turns on rule tracing when rules have already been added.

unproductive_ok

The value must be a reference to an array of symbol names. By default, Marpa warns if a symbol is unproductive, but the warning is suppressed for any symbol named in the array. Setting the unproductive_ok named argument after grammar precomputation is useless, and itself results in a warning.

Unproductive symbols are symbols which can never derive a sentence. (A sentence is a string of zero or more terminals.) That means that unproductive symbols can never be part of a successful parse. Unproductive symbols often indicate errors in grammar design. But a user may have plans for these symbols, may wish to keep them as notes, or may simply wish to deal with them later.

warnings

The value is a boolean. Warnings are written to the trace file handle. By default, warnings are on. Usually, an application will want to leave them on. If warnings are turned off, turning them back on after grammar precomputation is useless, and itself results in a warning.

RULE DESCRIPTORS

    rules => [
        { lhs => 'Expression', rhs => [qw/Term/] },
        { lhs => 'Term',       rhs => [qw/Factor/] },
        { lhs => 'Factor',     rhs => [qw/Number/] },
        { lhs => 'Term', rhs => [qw/Term Add Term/], action => 'do_add' },
        {   lhs    => 'Factor',
            rhs    => [qw/Factor Multiply Factor/],
            action => 'do_multiply'
        },
    ],

Rule descriptors as hashes

The long form descriptor of a rule is a reference to a hash of rule properties. In each key/value pair of this hash, the hash key is the rule property name and the hash value is the value of that property.

action

The value of the action rule property is a string which specifies the semantics for the rule. For details, see the document on semantics.

The semantics of nulling symbols are dealt with on a per-symbol basis, rather than a per-rule basis. For this reason the action rule property is useless for empty rules. An exception is thrown if an action property is defined for an empty rule.

keep

Separators in sequence rules are usually not semantically significant. By default, Marpa throws away separators during parse tree traversal and before node evaluation time, so that the semantic actions do not see the separators.

If the value of the keep rule property is a Perl true, Marpa keeps separators. This allows the semantic actions to examine them. The downside is that the work of distinguishing sequence separators from sequence items is pushed into the semantic actions. For details about the semantics, see the document on semantics.

lhs

The value of the lhs rule property must be a string containing the name of the rule's left hand side symbol. Every Marpa rule must have a left hand side symbol.

The lhs plays a role in the semantics. If no action rule property is defined, Marpa looks in either the grammar's actions package or the grammar's action_object for a Perl closure that has the name of the lhs symbol. For details, see the document on semantics.

min

min must be 0, 1, or undefined. If min is 0 or 1, the rule is a sequence rule. If min is undefined, the rule is an ordinary, non-sequence rule.

Only one symbol, called the sequence item, is allowed on the right hand side of a sequence rule. The sequence item may not be a nullable symbol. The input will be required to match the sequence item at least min times and will be allowed to match the sequence item an unlimited number of times.

null_ranking

null_ranking is ignored unless the recognizer's ranking_method named argument is set to something other than its default. The null_ranking named argument allows the application to control the order in which rules with nullable symbols are returned by the value method. Such rules can match the same input in several ways depending on which symbols are nulled. These different ways of nulling symbols in a rule are called its null variants.

If null_ranking is undefined, the order of the null variants will be arbitrary. This is the default, and is acceptable to most applications. For details on using the null_ranking named argument, see the document on parse order.

proper

By default, sequence rules with separators allow trailing separators, Perl-style. If the proper rule property is a Perl true, "proper" separation is enforced. In proper separation, separation must actually separate sequence items, and trailing separators are not allowed.

rank

rank is ignored unless the recognizer's ranking_method named argument is set to something other than its default. rank, when specified, must be an integer. It may be negative. rank is 0 by default. For details on using the rank named argument, see the document on parse order.

rhs

The value of the rhs property is a reference to an array of strings containing the names of the rule's right hand symbols, in order. This array may be zero length, in which case this is an empty rule -- a rule with no symbols on the right hand side. A rule is also empty if there is no rhs specifier in its descriptor.

separator

Any sequence rule may have a separator defined. The value must be a symbol name. By default, Marpa allows trailing separators. This is the usual style in Perl. The separator must not be a nullable symbol.

Rule descriptors as arrays

    rules => [
        [ 'E', [qw/E Add E/],      'do_add' ],
        [ 'E', [qw/E Multiply E/], 'do_multiply' ],
        [ 'E', [qw/Number/], ],
    ],

Rule descriptors may be given in "short form" -- as a reference to an array. The elements of the array, in order, are the lhs property, the rhs property, and the action property. The last two are optional. Omission of an optional property in a short form descriptor has the same effect that omitting the same optional property would have in the long form.

Duplicate rules

Marpa throws an exception if a duplicate rule is added. Two rules are considered duplicates if

  • Both rules have the same left hand symbol.

  • Both rules have the same right hand symbols in the same order.

This definition applies to sequence rules, as well as to ordinary rules. As a consequence, sequence rules can be considered duplicates even when they have different separators and/or different minimum counts.

SYMBOL DESCRIPTORS

    symbols        => {
        L => { null_value => 'null L' },
        R => { null_value => 'null R' },
        A => { null_value => 'null A' },
        B => { null_value => 'null B' },
        X => { null_value => 'null X', terminal => 1 },
        Y => { null_value => 'null Y', terminal => 1 },
    },

A symbol descriptor is a hash. In the key/value pairs of this hash, the hash key is the symbol property name and the hash value is the value of that property. The available symbol properties are as follows:

null_value

The null_value symbol property specifies the null value of its symbol. Details are given in the document on semantics.

terminal

A boolean. If true, it directly marks the symbol as a terminal. If false, it unmarks the symbol as a terminal. For details, see the section on terminals.

COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE

  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Kegler
  This file is part of Marpa::XS.  Marpa::XS is free software: you can
  redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser
  General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation,
  either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
  
  Marpa::XS is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
  but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
  MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU
  Lesser General Public License for more details.
  
  You should have received a copy of the GNU Lesser
  General Public License along with Marpa::XS.  If not, see
  http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.



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