++ed by:
AZAWAWI DRTECH DOUGDUDE PERLANCAR

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1 non-PAUSE user.

Author image Jeffrey Kegler
and 1 contributors

NAME

Marpa::Semantics - How Marpa Evaluates Parses

SYNOPSIS

    my $grammar = Marpa::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'
                },
            ],
        }
    );
    sub My_Actions::do_add {
        my ( undef, $t1, undef, $t2 ) = @_;
        return $t1 + $t2;
    }

    sub My_Actions::do_multiply {
        my ( undef, $t1, undef, $t2 ) = @_;
        return $t1 * $t2;
    }

    sub My_Actions::first_arg { shift; return shift; }

    my $value_ref = $recce->value;
    my $value = $value_ref ? ${$value_ref} : 'No Parse';

OVERVIEW

This document describes Marpa's standard semantics. Marpa's standard semantics are shared by Marpa's Single Parse Evaluator and its Multi-parse Evaluator. As of this writing, the standard semantics are the only semantics available for Marpa.

Marpa's standard semantics will be familiar to those who have used traditional methods to evaluate parses. A parse is seen as a parse tree. Nodes on the tree are evaluated recursively, bottom-up. Once the values of all its child nodes are known, a parent node is ready to be evaluated. The value of a parse is the value of the top node of the parse tree.

Marpa's semantics see a virtual parse tree with virtual nodes. These virtual structures keep ambiguity and rule rewrites invisible to the semantics. Nodes in Marpa's virtual parse trees are of three kinds:

  • Token Nodes

  • Rule Nodes

  • Null Nodes

Action Names and Semantic Closures

During grammar generation and input recognition, Marpa does not allow semantics to be specified directly as Perl closures. This approach to semantics follows Perl 6, the wisdom of whose example I discovered the hard way.

When a Marpa grammar is created, all non-constant semantics take the form of strings which express actions. Actions are semantics in an indirect form. Actions are given meaning later by an evaluator.

At evaluation time, actions are resolved to semantic Perl closures, and the semantic Perl closures are run to produce values. (For brevity, semantic Perl closures are sometimes called semantics closures.)

NODES

Token Nodes

For every input token, there is an associated token node. In the usual, token-stream, model of input, every token will become a leaf node in the parse tree. Tokens always have a token symbol. At lexing time, they can be assigned a token value. If no token value is assigned at lex time, the token value defaults to a Perl undef.

Rule Nodes

Nodes which are ancestors of token nodes are called rule nodes. Rule nodes are always associated with a rule. The value of a rule node is computed at node evaluation time. Applications can specify, on a per-rule basis, semantic Perl closures to evaluate rule nodes.

The semantic closure's arguments will be a per-parse variable followed by the values of its child nodes in lexical order. The value returned by the semantic Perl closure becomes the value of the node. If there is no semantic closure for a rule node, the value of the rule node is a Perl undef.

Sequence Rule Nodes

Some rules are sequence rules. Everything said above about rule nodes, also applies to sequence rule nodes. Specifically, the arguments to the semantic Perl closures for sequence rules are the per-parse variable followed by the values of the child nodes in lexical order.

The difference (and it is a big one) is that in an ordinary rule, the right hand side is fixed in length, and that length is known when you are writing the semantic Perl closure. In a sequence rule, the number of right hand side symbols is not known until node evaluation time. A semantic Perl closure for a sequence rule node is written in the same way that you write any Perl closure that handles a variable number of arguments.

Sequence semantics work best for sequences of items all of which have the same semantics. When that is not the case, writing the sequence using ordinary non-sequence rules should be considered as an alternative.

By default, if a sequence rule has separators, the separators are thrown away before the semantics are applied. They do not appear in the semantic Perl closure's @_ array. If the value of the keep rule property is a Perl true, separators are kept, and do appear in the @_ array.

Null Nodes

A null node is a node which derives the zero-length, or empty string. This means that a null node cannot be the ancestor of any token nodes. In Marpa, null nodes are always leaf nodes.

Null nodes are of two kinds. A nulling symbol node corresponds to a nulling symbol. A nulled rule node represents a nulled rule.

For every null node there is a null node symbol, which is used to the determine the value of the null node. For a nulled rule node, the null node symbol is the nulled rule's left hand side symbol. For a nulling symbol node, the null node symbol is the nulling symbol.

The value of a null node is the null value of the null node symbol. The null value of a symbol comes from that symbol's null_value property, if one is defined. Otherwise, the null value of the symbol comes from the grammar's default null value, as defined by the grammar's default_null_value named argument. If neither the symbol null_value property or the grammar's default_null_value named argument is defined, a symbol's null value is a Perl undef,

A null subtree is a subtree all of whose nodes are null. Marpa prunes all null subtrees back to their topmost null node. This means that all null nodes that remain in Marpa's virtual parse tree will be leaf nodes.

The "lost" semantics of the non-root nodes of null subtrees are usually not missed. Null subtrees cannot contain token nodes, so no token nodes are lost when null subtrees are pruned. As bushy as a null subtree might be, all of its nodes are null nodes, and the semantics of null nodes is almost always constant.

All null nodes correspond to zero-length strings, so we are literally dealing here with the "semantics of nothing". In theory the semantics of nothing can be arbitrarily complex. In practice it should be possible to keep them simple.

If any application ever actually needs it, Marpa could implement a complex, and even dynamic, "semantics of nothing". For details see below.

Null Sequence Nodes

Rule nodes for sequences were mentioned above. Sequence nodes can also be null nodes. This happens with sequence rules which have a min rule property of 0. Such a sequence rule can contain any number of sequence items, including zero items. When a sequence contains zero items, it must derive the zero-length string, and its node is a null node.

Sequence null nodes follow the rules for null nodes. Their value is that of a symbol -- the left hand side symbol of the nulled sequence rule.

Nullable sequence rules do have a potential to surprise. When the node for a nullable sequence rule is a null node, its semantics comes from the null value for its left hand side symbol. When the node for a nullable sequence rule is not a null node, then it is a rule node and its semantics come from the rule. It's up to the application to see that these two -- the null value and the sequence rule -- "make sense" together. One way to do this is to create a special symbol which is dedicated to service as the left hand side symbol for the sequence rule. That dedicated symbol can then be given the correct semantics.

The rules for nodes in null subtrees apply with equal force to nodes for sequence rules. In a nulled subtree, the only node whose semantics matters is the root node of that subtree. If a zero-length sequence is in a nulled subtree, and that zero-length sequence is not the root node of that subtree, its semantics will be completely ignored.

PHASES

This section outlines the standard semantics in chronological order.

Evaluator Setup Phase

Evaluator setup is the first phase and occurs before any processing of actual parses. In evaluator setup, all null symbol values are computed and all action names are resolved to semantic Perl closures.

Bocage Setup Phase

In the Single Parse Evaluator, this phase does not exist. In the Multi-parse Evaluator, bocage setup comes after evaluator setup, but before parse setup.

Bocage setup initializes a structure for iterating multiple parses. The bocage setup phase occurs the first time Marpa::Evaluator::value is called. The Multi-parse evaluator calls the ranking actions for token nodes and for null nodes in this phase.

Parse Setup Phase

The parse setup phase occurs after evaluator setup and, if applicable, after bocage setup. The parse setup phase occurs before parse tree traversal. In the parse setup phase, the per-parse variable is created. If a constructor was found for the action_object, it is run at this point, and the per-parse variable is its return value.

In the Multi-parse Evaluator, this phase occurs once for each call to the Marpa::Evaluator::value method. The Multi-parse Evaluator calls the ranking actions for rule nodes in this phase.

Parse Tree Traversal Phase

Parse tree traversal is the last phase. During parse tree traversal, Marpa traverses the parse tree, evaluating each of its nodes. During parse tree traversal, node evaluation time occurs for every node in the parse. In the Multi-parse Evaluator, a parse tree traversal phase occurs once for each call to the Marpa::Evaluator::value method.

Node Evaluation Time

Node evaluation time occurs during parse tree traversal. Node evaluation time is parse tree traversal, seen from the point of view of the individual nodes of the parse tree. Marpa calls the semantic Perl closure for each rule node at node evaluation time.

SEARCHING FOR RULE SEMANTIC CLOSURES

Marpa finds the semantic Perl closure for each rule based on rule and symbol properties and on the grammar named arguments. The search for a semantic Perl closure is equivalent to following these steps:

  • Resolve the action property

    If no action property is defined for a rule, the search proceeds to the next step.

    If the action property for a rule is defined and if it resolves to a Perl closure, that Perl closure becomes the rule's semantic Perl closure, and the search ends. The resolution of action names is described below.

    If a defined action property does not successfully resolve to a closure, no further attempt to find the semantic Perl closure is made. The search ends, and an exception is thrown.

  • Resolve the lhs property

    If the lhs property for a rule resolves to a Perl closure, that Perl closure becomes the rule's semantic Perl closure, and the search ends.

    If the lhs property fails to resolve to a Perl closure, Marpa is unusually lenient. No exception is thrown. This is the one case where failure of an action name to resolve is not treated as a fatal error. The search proceeds to the next step.

  • Resolve the default_action Named Argument

    If the grammar does not have a default_action defined, the search proceeds to the next step.

    If the grammar does have a default_action defined, and if it resolves to a Perl closure, that Perl closure becomes the rule's semantic Perl closure, and the search ends.

    If a defined default_action grammar named argument does not successfully resolve to a closure, no further attempt to find the semantic Perl closure is made. The search ends, and an exception is thrown.

  • Evaluate to undef

    If no semantic Perl closure is found, the value of the rule is always a Perl undef. Marpa optimizes for this case, but the effect is the same as if the rule's semantic Perl closure was the following:

         sub { return }

RESOLVING ACTION NAMES

Action names are resolved to semantic Perl closures in the evaluator setup phase. Candidates for resolution as action names include

  • The default_action named argument of Marpa's grammar.

  • The action property of Marpa's rules.

  • The ranking_action property of Marpa's rules.

  • The ranking_action property of Marpa's symbols.

  • The new constructor in the package specified by the action_object named argument of the Marpa grammar;

  • The lhs property of Marpa's rules.

Resolution of the action object constructor is explained below as a special case.

Explicit Resolution

The standard semantics support the closures named argument, which allows the user to directly control the mapping from action names to semantic Perl closures. The value of the closures named argument is a reference to a hash whose keys are action names and whose hash values are CODE refs.

If an action name is the key of an entry in the closures hash, it resolves to the closure referenced by the value part of that hash entry. Resolution via the closures named argument is called explicit resolution.

When explicit resolution is the only kind of resolution that is wanted, it is best to pick a name that is very unlikely to be the name of a Perl closure. Many of Marpa::UrHTML's action names are intended for explicit resolution only. In Marpa::UrHTML those action names begin with an exclamation mark ("!"), and that convention is recommended.

Fully Qualified Action Names

If explicit resolution fails, Marpa transforms the action name into a fully qualified Perl name. An action name that contains a double colon ("::") or a single quote ("'") is considered to be a fully qualified name. Any other action name is considered to be a bare action name.

If the action name to be resolved is already a fully qualified name, it is not further transformed. It will be resolved in the form it was received, or not at all.

For bare action names, Marpa tries to qualify them by adding a package name. If the actions grammar named argument is defined, Marpa uses it as the package name. Otherwise, if the action_object grammar named argument is defined, Marpa uses it as the package name. Once Marpa has fully qualified the action name, Marpa looks for a Perl closure with that name in the namespace.

If Marpa cannot fully qualify an action name, it will not attempt to resolve it. This means that for an action name to resolve successfully, one of these four things must be the case:

  • The actions named argument is defined.

  • The action_object named argument is defined.

  • The action name resolves explicitly.

  • The action name is fully qualified to begin with.

In all but one circumstance, failure to resolve an action name is thrown as an exception. Marpa is more lenient when it attempts to use the lhs rule property as an action name. That is the one case in which Marpa will look at other alternaties. See the section on finding rule semantic closures.

Marpa's philosophy is that asking the programmer to be specific about action names can be a slight inconvenience, but silently executing unintended code might be a major disaster. Marpa prefers action name resolution to fail when the application's intent is not clear.

Generally it's best practice to put the semantic Perl closures into their own namespace. But if, for example, the user wants to leave the semantic closures in the main namespace, she can specify "main" as the value of the actions named argument.

THE PER-PARSE VARIABLE

In the parse setup phase, Marpa creates a per-parse variable. This becomes the first argument of the semantic Perl closures for the rule nodes. If the grammar's action_object named argument is not defined, the per-parse variable is initialized to an empty hash ref.

Most data for the rule node semantic Perl closures will be passed up the parse tree. The semantic Perl closures will see the values of their child nodes as arguments, and will return their own value to be seen as an argument by their parent node. The per-parse variable can be used for data which does not conveniently fit this model.

The per-parse variable has the same lifetime as the parse. After it is initialized, Marpa's internals never alter it -- it is reserved for use by the semantic Perl closures implementing rule node semantics.

Action Object Constructor

If the grammar's action_object named argument has a defined value, that value is treated as the name of a class. The action object constructor is the new method in the action_object class.

The action object constructor is run at parse setup time. The return value of the action object constructor becomes the per-parse variable. It is a fatal error if the grammar's action_object named argument is defined, but does not name a class with a new method.

The fully qualified name of the action object constructor is the value of the action_object named argument followed by the literal string "::new". Resolution of the action object constructor is done as resolution of this fully qualified action name.

If a grammar has both the action and the action_object named arguments defined, all action names except for the action object constructor will be resolved in the action package or not at all. Only the action object constructor name will be resolved using the action_object class.

Bypass via explicit resolution applies to the action object constructor. If the fully qualified name of the action object constructor is a hash key in the evaluator's closures named argument, then the Perl closure referred to by the value of that hash entry becomes the action object constructor.

NULL SUBTREES

In Marpa, a null node must be leaf node. Because Marpa prunes every null subtree back to its topmost null node, none of the non-root nodes in a null subtree are represented in Marpa's virtual parse tree. Here's an example:

    sub L {
        shift;
        return 'L(' . ( join q{;}, @_ ) . ')';
    }

    sub R {
        shift;
        return 'R(' . ( join q{;}, @_ ) . ')';
    }

    sub S {
        shift;
        return 'S(' . ( join q{;}, @_ ) . ')';
    }

    my $grammar = Marpa::Grammar->new(
        {   start   => 'S',
            actions => 'main',
            rules   => [
                [ 'S', [qw/L R/] ],
                [ 'L', [qw/A B X/] ],
                [ 'L', [] ],
                [ 'R', [qw/A B Y/] ],
                [ 'R', [] ],
                [ 'A', [] ],
                [ 'B', [] ],
                [ 'X', [] ],
                [ 'Y', [] ],
            ],
            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 },
            },
        }
    );

    $grammar->precompute();

    my $recce = Marpa::Recognizer->new( { grammar => $grammar } );

    $recce->tokens( [ [ 'X', 'x' ], ] );

If we write the unpruned parse tree one node per line in pre-order, depth-first, indenting children below their parents, we get something like this:

        0: Rule Node, Rule: S := L R
             1: Rule Node, Rule L := A B X
                 1.1: Null Node, Symbol A
                 1.2: Null Node, Symbol B
                 1.3: Token Node, Token value is 'x'
             2: Rule Node, Rule R := A B Y
                 2.1: Null Node, Symbol A
                 2.2: Null Node, Symbol B
                 2.3: Null Node, Symbol Y

In this example, six nodes are nulled. Four of them are in a single subtree: 2, 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3. Marpa prunes every null subtree back to its null root node, which in this case is the node numbered 2.

The pruned tree looks like this

        0: Rule Node, Rule: S := L R
             1: Rule Node, Rule L := A B X
                 1.1: Null Node, Symbol A
                 1.2: Null Node, Symbol B
                 1.3: Token Node, Token value is 'x'
             2: Null Node, Symbol R

Here is the output:

    S(L(null A;null B;x);null R)

In the output we see

  • The null value for node 1.1: "null A".

  • The null value for node 1.2: "null B".

  • The token value for node 1.3: "x".

  • An application of the semantic Perl closure for node 1.

  • The null value for node 2: "null R".

  • An application of the semantic Perl closure for rule node 0.

We do not see any output for nodes 2.1, 2.2, or 2.3 because they were non-root nodes in the pruned subtree. We do see the null value for node 2, because after pruning it is a leaf node. We do not see an application of the semantic Perl closure for node 2, because after pruning, node 2 is not a rule node.

The Semantics of Nothing

Rarely, your application may call for a complex semantics of nothing. If the semantics of nothing, while complex, remains constant, you can handle it setting every nullable symbol's null_value property to the value which your semantics produces when that nullable symbol is the root symbol of a null subtree.

If the values in your "semantics of nothing" are not constants, Marpa can still calculate them. Determine which of your nullable symbols have a dynamic semantics. Call these your dynamic nullables. Let the null_value property of every dynamic nullable be a hash key. For every rule with a dynamic nullable on its right hand side, write the rule's semantic Perl closure so that it maps that hash key to a Perl closure, which it then runs to calculate the value of the dynamic nullable.

LICENSE AND COPYRIGHT

Copyright 2007-2010 Jeffrey Kegler, all rights reserved. Marpa is free software under the Perl license. For details see the LICENSE file in the Marpa distribution.