>Road-side trees

>I was driving home and saw something strange a few days ago. Thinking about it – I have noticed it before, but this was a prime example. The picture below shows a tree that has got a foothold – it is growing.


Some of you might have noticed the closeness to the roadside. That is because the tree is a stick that has been placed there by the Swedish Road Administration РVägverket. They have experimented with putting wooden sticks as markers to show where the road is during snow.
There used to have orange plastic sticks that they had to collect in the spring – some where lost others broken. It was a big expense. The new sticks where ment to be cut when the roadsides where cleaned – but apparantly not.

My hope is that Sweden will go from the country of round-abouts to the country of road-side death by trees.

>More OO for the Compiler

>I’ve been looking at the tokenizer and lexer of SpeedCrunch laterly – much because there seems to be a problem with how it handles functions. After some thought I’ve come to the conclusion that the lexer part really could be made more object orientated.

My thought is to have each language element, such as an adding operation, contant, function, etc represented by a class. Each class has a evaluate member that takes a current environment (that is, a list of available variables and functions). They also have a common base class, lets call it LangElem, and a static factory function.

Lets try to implement a minimalistic language that can do multiplication and addition where multiplication has preceedence. Since the addition has the lowest priority, we start with it:

AddElem :: MulElem ['+' MulElem]*

This is some sort of hand made, non-standard, BNF encoding. All it says is that an addition consist of at least one multiplication element. If the token after the multiplication is a ‘+’, then another multiplication element is added to the list. This goes on until no more ‘+’ tokens are found.

The multiplication element looks like this:

MulElem :: ValueElem ['*' ValueElem]*

It works just like the AddElem, just that it takes value elements and ‘*’ tokens. So, how does the value element look?

ValueElem :: constant | identfier | '(' AddElem ')'

Each value element can either be a constant token (remember, we run the tokenizer first), an identifier token or an addition element enclosed in parenthesises.

This all looks nice, but how do we implement it? Before we look at the code, remember, this is pseudo-code.

class AddElem : public LangElem
{
public:
static LangElem *factory( TokenStack stack )
{
LangElem *temp = MulElem::factory( stack );
if( stack.top() != '+' )
return temp; // When no addition takes place, skip the AddElem, and go directly for the MulElem
List<langelem*> tempList;

do
{
stack.pop(); // Take the '+' from the token stack
temp = MulElem::factory( stack );
tempList << temp;
} while (stack.top() == '+')

return new AddElem( tempList );
}

ResultType evaluate( Context context )
{
// Simply add all sub-results together and return the sum
resultType res = 0;
foreach( LangElem *e, mulElems )
res += e->evaluate( context );

return res;
}

private:
AddElem( List<langelem*> tempList ) : mulElems(tempList) {}

List<langelem*> mulElems;
};

The MulElem looks about the same, and the ValueElem tries to match identifiers, constants and parenthesises. There are two issues with this approach: first, “compilation errors” needs to be handled by exceptions and the ResultType must be able to carry an error message or exceptions will have to be employed there as well.

The benefits are many – specially with some implementation tricks. First, the context keeps a list of variable values, where the latest one is the valid one. A function can choose to accept a variable name instead of a value as a parameter.

This means that the function plot( variable, range, expression ) is possible. Variable is the value to iterate over, range is just a type that can be matched by a RangeElem (can looks like [start:step:end]) and the expression is what is to be plotted. For example plot( t, 0:0.1:2*pi, sin(t) ).

When the plot function evaluates it returns a standard answer – NoValue or something. It takes t and adds it on the top of the variable list (since the first hit is valid, this means that t is local to the plotted expression, it is removed (popped) from the list after the plot so everything is kept intact. The expression can then be evaluated any number of times with a different context each time – that is, with a different t value.

My though is to implement this new compiler, along with a value type that is picked at compile time (so you can trade performance and precision freely). Perhaps a cousin of evaluate() could be compile() that uses libjit for just-in-time compilation. This new approach makes it possible to keep many of the existing interfaces and at the same time build a SpeedCrunch script language. It also makes it easier to modify and extend the system in the future as the changes can be kept inside a single class.

>Making the deadlines

>This has been a great day. This week I’m faced with major deadlines Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Today I was able to move the Friday deadline to Sunday, complete the work needed for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s deadlines and got to know that the draft I delivered for Thursday’s deadline was good enough – so it will only be an approval of my text put in a standard formatting.

A great day. Hope that this will be a great week.

>Qt Collaterals and Electronix Scandinavia

>I just wanted to show you some of the collateralls that Trolltech brought to the Quickstart last week. Lots of nice material – much with focus on Qtopia which I find interesting.

I felt that one fair was not enough for last week, so I also visited Electronix Scandinavia as well. Since I’m easily amused I took the chance to go Tux-hunting. First was an all alone Tux by some pens and candy.

There where more Tuxes out there, but some guys actually brought wooden Gnomes. They did, however, not know of GTK+ so there must have been some misunderstanding :-)


I was at the fair the last day of three, so some exhibitors where a bit tired. The Solitec guys seemed tired of customers – they did not even look up from their mobiles. I wonder if they where playing single player, wireless multiplayer or just checking their mail?


Just before leaving I found the booth shown below. Yes, their company name starts with five As. That is AAAAA. I guess they tried to appear first in the fair catalogue – too bad 3M was there :-)