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Improving the Reversible Programming Language R and its Supporting Tools Christopher R. Clark [email protected] CIS 4914 Senior Project Advisor: Dr. Michael P. Frank [email protected] December 3, 2001
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Abstract This project involved improving the functionality and performance of a reversible programming environment developed previously by a team at MIT. Enhancements were made to the R re- versible programming language, the R compiler, and the Pendulum reversible processor architec- ture simulator. Support for advanced condition testing, character strings, and data output format- ting was added to R. The compiler was made easier to use and faster. Finally, the emulator was updated to support the new language features. The results of this project serve as a step in the evolution of the R programming tools. Suggestions for future work are presented. 1 Introduction 1.1 Background Reversible computing means using only computational operations that can be exactly reversed, or undone. Reversibility can be applied to any or all levels of a computer system—circuits, ar- chitectures, programming languages, and algorithms. This project deals with a reversible pro- gramming language and a reversible processor architecture. At these levels, reversibility pro- vides support for exploring interesting reversible algorithms. 1.2 Related Work The foundation for this project is the reversible programming language R and the Pendulum re- versible processor architecture, which were both originally developed at MIT by Dr. Frank, Carlin Vieri, and others. Dr. Frank also developed a compiler for R that targets the Pendulum architecture. Matt DeBergalis (MIT) developed a simulator for Pendulum assembly language programs, known as PendVM. 1.3 Motivation The R language and compiler were developed as a proof-of-concept and to simplify writing pro- grams for the Pendulum architecture. However, the functionality of R and the efficiency of the compiler were less than ideal. Improving these two areas is the main emphasis of this project. PendVM will also be modified to support the new functionality of R. The improved versions of R, the R compiler, and PendVM will provide future programmers with more capabilities and more productivity. 2 Research 2.1 Studying Existing Implementation The first task of the project was to gain understand the current state of the R language, the R compiler, and the Pendulum virtual machine. This involved reading the relevant chapters of Dr. 2
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Frank’s manuscript [1], which include the specifications of the language and the compiler. After reading this material, I studied the source code for the compiler, which is written in Common Lisp. I wrote several simple R programs and compiled them using the R compiler in debug mode, which displays the output after each step in the iterative compilation process. By studying this output, I was able to understand the internal workings of the compiler. Next, I studied the source code of the Pendulum emulator, PendVM, which is written in C. I ran some sample pro- grams to learn the emulator’s interface.
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