Silver: An extensible attribute grammar system

Eric Van Wyk, Derek Bodin, Jimin Gao, Lijesh Krishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Attribute grammar specification languages, like many domain-specific languages, offer significant advantages to their users, such as high-level declarative constructs and domain-specific analyses. Despite these advantages, attribute grammars are often not adopted to the degree that their proponents envision. One practical obstacle to their adoption is a perceived lack of both domain-specific and general purpose language features needed to address the many different aspects of a problem. Here we describe Silver, an extensible attribute grammar specification system, and show how it can be extended with general purpose features such as pattern matching and domain-specific features such as collection attributes and constructs for supporting data-flow analysis of imperative programs. The result is an attribute grammar specification language with a rich set of language features. Silver is implemented in itself by a Silver attribute grammar and utilizes forwarding to implement the extensions in a cost-effective manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
JournalScience of Computer Programming
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is partially funded by the McKnight Foundation and the National Science Foundation via NSF CAREER Award #0347860 and NSF CCF Award #0429640.


  • Attribute grammars
  • Extensible compilers
  • Extensible languages
  • Forwarding
  • Silver attribute grammar system

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