Whats better than Turing complete? Turing Turing complete. Simulating a Turing complete language in a Turing complete language gives you this distinction.
Obviously I had to choose brainfuck, an esoteric language loved by everyone. It’s also incredibly simple. I’ll run through it’s code line by line. Along the road I’ll explain new features added in to make this brainfuck.stas happen.
I’ll first talk about some new parts to the language, the match statement and character literals.
The Match Statement
The match/switch case statement is a fundamental part of any programming language. Mapping very close to assembly, the match statement is near mandatory for syntactically clean code.
It’s a new and needed addition to stas and it acts similarly to other languages.
match 11 in 13 do ; 13! end 12 12 += do ; 24! end 11 -- do ; 10! end end
Another thing to keep in mind about match and if headers. It is perfectly legal for them to just be empty, with the condition appearing beforehand. With an empty header, they consume existing values from the stack.
These two pairs of match and if statements are functionally the same.
true if do end
if true do end
match 1 do end
1 match do end
What if you want to get the value of an ascii character, without using some kind of ascii table?
Just how it works in V, I use backticks to denote a character literal. When scanning source code, it is simply replaced with a number to be pushed onto the stack.
"0" ; is a string with one character `0` ; the ascii value of zero, 48
The entire program …
… 55 lines, I’ve seen smaller, but I’d say thats pretty good!
I’ll step through it chunk by chunk.
At the start of the program I declare two buffers, one containing 1024 bytes and another 20 000 bytes. The first buffer is used to store the brainfuck program, which is read from the standard input.
The second buffer stores the brainfuck “memory tape”. This chunk of memory will be manipulated by the brainfuck program. It is set to all zeros using the memset standard library function.
echo '+[----->+++<]>+.+.' | ./brainfuck
The program reads from stdin, so just pipe a program in like this!
I initialise all stack variables used in the program next.
If you are familiar with brainfuck, you would know that there is a pointer that points to the current cell and is manipulated with arrow characters “<” and “>”. The variable ptr_bf is this value and is incremented and decremented at will.
current_bf is a pointer to the current character being interpreted in the brainfuck program. It is set to the beginning of the program buffer and incremented to read the next character in the program.
If the interpreter comes across a “[”, a character denoting a new loop in a brainfuck program, it’s position is stored in the “last_loop” variable. When looping the “current_bf” variable, or position in the brainfuck program, is set to back to the beginning of that loop (stored in the “last_loop” variable).
“While the current character in the brainfuck program does not have an ascii value of zero, do below.”
The end of a string of characters is usually contains a null character/byte at the end. A null character contains a value of zero. If we hit one, we can safely exit as the entire program has been read through.
See the @ symbol? After comparision of the current character, a duplicate is made and is left on the stack for the body of the while loop to act on.
The current character being acted on is currently on the stack and is ready to be consumed by the match statement.
Now to actually interpret the current character, following brainfuck’s rules.
“<” and “>” increment and decrement the current cell index in the buffer. “<” also checks if the index is not zero before decrementing.
“+” and “-” increments and decrements the current cell value. Adding the buffers base pointer by the index returns the address of the current cell. I duplicate this value, dereference it, increment it and write the incremented value to the original address. (* and & both consume one pointer, you must duplicate the pointer if you want to use it again.)
The " . " character means print the ascii character at the current cell. I add the buffers base with the current index and use this address as the input to the “write” function, with a length to write of one.
The " , " character takes one character from the user, and places it in the current cell. I get the address of the current cell and call the “getch” function to take input of one character and return it’s value. I use those as input to write the byte value to the pointer.
The “[” and “]” characters mean enter a while loop.
When hitting the “[” character, take note of the current position in the entered code and store it inside the “last_loop” variable.
Brainfuck code inside the loop will now execute as normal, until it hits a “]” character. When it does, the current cell value is checked. If it does not equal zero, go back to the loop start (the “[” character). Else, continue execution.
Executed at the end of the main while loop’s body, this increments the pointer pointing to characters in the entered code buffer.
It simply moves onto the next character in the array and allows the while loop to handle it.
Print a newline character before exiting the program.
And thats it!
Writing brainfuck, or any program for that matter, in my language is one of my goals. It shows how my language is maturing. For next time, I want to implement unit tests for all sections of my compiler. And maybe refactor how variables are implemented at the assembly level, that will make way for a stack datatype I plan to add.
Until then, I’m out!