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So, last week, I mentioned we're going to be building a compiler. To that end, I want to spend some time and talk about what a compiler is and set a clear goal for our compiler. With that, let's get started. That seems kind of ambiguous, but I want to use a fairly generic definition here. This is primarily because what we will be doing today isn't a compiler like a C compiler, but it gets all the basics. The skills you will learn here can be applied to something like C (although making a fully C compliant compiler is much harder than it sounds).
So, now that I've finished the series we started last year on linked lists, it's time to reflect and look at last year. I would like to discuss how this year went and kind of talk about future plans. Don't worry, all good things. In my teen years, my dad introduced me to computer programming. I liked that even more. Pretty soon, programming became a hobby of mine, and I excelled at it. I mean, I was a teenager, so I didn't have knowledge of good design and stuff like that, but for my age I think I was good (of course, that's my own bias talking, but you get the point).
Ever wonder how computers perform addition? After all, computers only work with bits, or 1s and 0s. While a bunch of bits together does create binary numbers, how exactly does it add numbers? After all, computers didn't exactly take arithmetic in 2nd grade. How does it really know how to add? Never fear, we will discuss that today. We discuss concepts of Boolean Algebra. If you haven't read up on that, or otherwise already know about it, I highly suggest you do before continuing. Before we talk about the algorithm, or the steps computers take, to add two numbers together, let's talk about a concept called "Logic Gates", since that's a buzzword that will be useful to know as we continue.
So, last time, we talked about compiling and what a compiler is. This week, I'd like to take some time and discuss a part of a compiler called the "Parser." The web is filled with lots of resources on "parsing" and "parsers, " but very few take the time to actually explain it, at least in a way that is useful. So with that, let's get explain what a parser is. From a computer prospective, this is a lot easier to work with than just a straight sentence. Why do I bring this up again? Well that's because parsing is the process of generating this tree.
So, last week, I talked about parsers. This week, I want to talk about something else. But before I introduce it properly, I want to give you an intuition of what exactly it is and why we would ever use it. So, imagine, if you will, we want to build a parser. Let's make it a parser of English text. In real life, many would argue that natural language is too complex to do this for real (though I would like to try anyway as an experiment some day). This is just an example. You might be tempted to look at every character individually.
So, we are going to talk about stacks, which is something I promised to talk about several weeks ago in our discussion on code. I'm going to try to give non-technical explanation of how they work first, and then we'll talk about how they work in computers. Imagine you work at some firm. Let's say done your work for the day, but it's your turn to be on call. That means, for the most part, you can do whatever you want, but at any time you could get interrupted and have to do some sort of work task instead.
So, last time we turned our list functions into a linked list object. Well, when creating an object, there are some issues that come up that are unique to creating objects. So, without further do, let's get to it. The problem is that we base our deletions off of. If they are the same, then our data could get deleted twice! That's a problem because that is undefined behavior (I don't know if I've mentioned "Undefined Behavior" here before, but suffice it to say that's really bad). Fortuantely, we have an option.
But first, you might want to read up on Binary, Hexadecimal, and Octal, if you don't know what those are. For those who do, let's just get started. Something interesting to notice about this is where 10 (ten) falls. It falls at. Why is that important? Well, if we look at just the Binary, it doesn't really tell us anything useful about the Decimal equivalent number. Let me show you what I mean. You'll notice 42 has the same last 4 digits as 10. Yet, it's very hard to tell just by looking the decimal number.