Awelon Progress Report III

Another month gone, so quickly. What the heck did I do? It’s difficult to recall, but my git history is helping.

It seems my major accomplishments this month were:

  • implemented automatic unit testing for the AO dictionary (runs all `test.` words)
  • implemented an automatic type analysis based on partial evaluation
  • implemented a few list processing functions (e.g. nub, partition, sort, map, each)
  • simplified and optimized fixpoint combinator (15 ABC prims, from 80)
  • cleaned up the conditional behavior words (e.g. `if` and `if_`).
  • partially developed an incremental processes model (based on `µP.[a→(P*b)]`)

Not too bad, but I can’t say I’m entirely satisfied. I had an aha-moment idea for direct compilation of ABC into a Haskell monad (to improve bootstrap performance) but that ran into a wall. After picking up the pieces and removing the debris, all I had left of that effort was the typechecker. I also ended up removing adverbs, after experimenting with the idea and finding I needed more specialization for context and category (e.g. lists vs. streams vs. automata).

Ah, six steps forward, two steps back. That’s progress. :-/

My plans for the next month are to start building functions for data structures: maps/records, sequences, streams. And to further fill out the set for lists. I hope to get far enough along that I can start modeling grammars in April. At the moment, I have 844 words in AO, of which slightly more than half (440) are documentation (`doc.`), tests (`test.`), or assertions (`id.` or `eqv.`). I don’t know how many words I’ll need to bootstrap an ABC or AO compiler – quite a few, I imagine, but hopefully fewer than 10k. Regardless, I need to pick up the pace.

More subjectively, I quite enjoy programming in my new language.

The REPL plus automatic tests mix is very effective. I’d still like some automatic visualization and continuous feedback tools, and I very strongly look forward to rendering colors/styles instead of suffixes/prefixes for large words. But I’m not desparate for these features. AO has been delightful in its simplicity, security, safety, and flexibility. The first-class nature of the environment gives me much greater feeling of ‘control’ than I’ve felt in other languages. Going back to Haskell is starting to feel a little painful.

My main pain point for AO right now is the awful interpreted performance. I’ll be a lot happier with AO when I can compete with other languages for performance.

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4 Responses to Awelon Progress Report III

  1. rolyp says:

    Two backward/six forward sounds pretty good to me. Good luck with the next stage.

    I’m interested in your incremental process µP.[a→(P*b)] thing. (I assume that’s a single step of evolution of a recursive proc.) How does that fit in with RDP?

    • dmbarbour says:

      Your assume correctly what `µP.[a→(P*b)]` describes. RDP doesn’t retain state from instant to instant. Incremental processes can be useful in RDP for processing of large values within a logical instant, similar to folds. They’re also useful for modeling objects (assuming dependent types). Outside of RDP, incremental processes can be used to model long-running imperative/functional processes, and are potentially useful to implement RDP. (AO isn’t limited to the RDP paradigm.)

  2. Ogro says:

    Plenty of time to optimize performance later, right? That’s what they always tell me, anyway…

    • dmbarbour says:

      Yeah. Modulo a little frustration during bootstrap, it won’t make much of a difference whether I optimize now vs. later.

      I would like greater performance for its own sake, though… a proof of concept, of sorts. ABC is designed to be highly optimizable, but the cost is that it needs optimization to compete with more conventional models.

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