Vladimir Sedach

Have Emacs - Will Hack

March 10, 2007

Complete computing system in 20,000 lines of code

Topic: Software engineering

I just finished watching Ian Piumarta's talk on the Viewpoints Research Institute project to build a complete personal computer system in 20,000 lines of code. While one way to do this would be to use APL, Ian, Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, and the others working on the project have opted to go for building metacircular/self-describing systems. Among fascinating programming language and compiler topics, Ian discusses Val Schorre's Meta-II compiler compiler from 1963, which had a self-describing grammar. Fascinating stuff, and in my opinion critically important, since the only proven way to reduce software complexity has been, to, well, reduce software complexity - less lines of source code written in a simpler way makes for better, more maintainable software, and this is exactly what the project aims to do.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn7kTPbW6QQ

Slides: EE380-2007-slides.pdf