REVIEW - Theories of Programming Languages

Title:

Theories of Programming Languages

Author:

John C. Reynolds

ISBN:

0521594146

Publisher:

Cambridge University Press (1998)

Pages:

514pp

Reviewer:

Francis Glassborow

Reviewed:

June 1999

Rating:

★★☆☆☆

When I tell you that this book is written as a text for doctoral students studying at the Computer Science Department of Carnigie Mellon University (perhaps best known in Software Engineering circles for its SEI and the Capability Maturity Model) you will expect this book to be a deeply theoretical text. You would be right.

What this reviewer finds pleasing is that the author has avoid the trap of writing such a book using stilted academic English. The book cannot avoid pages of mathematical logic, pseudo code and the rest. Those are essential to the subject but the author has the courage to write in the first person (both singular and plural, as appropriate). I wish more technical authors would emulate him.

The book covers many aspects of computer language, all the time focusing on the fundamental principles. The would-be language designer would profit from studying this text. Such things as compositional semantics, binding structure, domains, transitions systems and inference rules are used to describe and reveal the design principles for a range of language types.

As the detailed subject matter is outside the interest of most readers I will say no more. However if anyone feels they would like to do a thorough review for publication in Overload please contact me and I will pass the review copy on.


Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.