Programming Language Concepts

  • Peter Sestoft

Part of the Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science book series (UTICS, volume 50)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XIV
  2. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 1-12
  3. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 13-29
  4. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 31-56
  5. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 57-76
  6. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 77-91
  7. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 93-113
  8. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 115-136
  9. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 137-154
  10. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 155-174
  11. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 175-199
  12. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 201-223
  13. Peter Sestoft
    Pages 225-243
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 245-278

About this book


Programming Language Concepts uses a functional programming language (F#) as the metalanguage in which to present all concepts and examples, and thus has an operational flavour, enabling practical experiments and exercises. It includes basic concepts such as abstract syntax, interpretation, stack machines, compilation, type checking, and garbage collection techniques, as well as the more advanced topics on polymorphic types, type inference using unification, co- and contravariant types, continuations, and backwards code generation with on-the-fly peephole optimization.

Programming Language Concepts covers practical construction of lexers and parsers, but not regular expressions, automata and grammars, which are well covered elsewhere. It throws light on the design and technology of Java and C# to strengthen students’ understanding of these widely used languages.

The examples present several interpreters and compilers for toy languages, including a compiler for a small but usable subset of C, several abstract machines, a garbage collector, and ML-style polymorphic type inference. Each chapter has exercises based on such examples.

Complete example source files, lecture slides and other materials are available at


Compilers Continuations Interpreters Language Design Type checking and type inference

Authors and affiliations

  • Peter Sestoft
    • 1
  1. 1.Software Development GroupIT University of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark

Bibliographic information

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