A symmetric approach to compilation and decompilation

Mads Sig Ager, Olivier Danvy, Mayer Goldberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Just as an interpreter for a source language can be turned into a compiler from the source language to a target language, we observe that an interpreter for a target language can be turned into a compiler from the target language to a source language. In both cases, the key issue is the choice of whether to perform an evaluation or to emit code that represents this evaluation. We substantiate this observation with two source interpreters and two target interpreters. We first consider a source language of arithmetic expressions and a target language for a stack machine, and then the λ- calculus and the SECD-machine language. In each case, we prove that the target-to-source compiler is a left inverse of the source-to-target compiler, i.e., that it is a decompiler. In the context of partial evaluation, the binding-time shift of going from a source interpreter to a compiler is classically referred to as a Futamura projection. By symmetry, it seems logical to refer to the binding-time shift of going from a target interpreter to a compiler as a Futamura embedding.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Essence of Computation
Subtitle of host publicationComplexity, Analysis, Transformation
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9783540003267
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume2566 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science (all)


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