CS 440 MP2


In this machine problem you will be updating the interpreter we started building in class in order to implement a number of new language constructs.

The core language constructs you will be adding include:

You will also add the following "syntactic sugar" forms:

Finally, you will also be adding the define form, which can be used to define functions using the same syntax as Racket. These functions will be loaded before the REPL is started (or some expression is evaluated). Unlike the functions supported by the interpreter we built in class, define'd functions will support recursion.


Core language additions

Syntactic sugar additions


The define form will be used to define one or more functions in a separate source file. This source file will be loaded and evaluated to create an environment within which we can either run a REPL or evaluate an expression.

The syntax of define is identical to that of Racket's (though we will not support "rest" parameters and any other options). E.g., below we define a function named sum with two parameters x and y, which returns their sum.

(define (sum x y)
  (+ x y))

You will implement the function load-defs, which takes the name of a file and returns an associative list containing all the name → function-value mappings defined in that file. E.g., given a file named "test1.defs" with the following contents:

(define (fn-a x)
  (+ x 10))

(define (fn-b x)
  (* x 20))

(define (fn-c x)
  (fn-a (fn-b x)))

Calling (load-defs "test1.defs") would return the following (nested closures are omitted):

  (cons 'fn-a
        (fun-val 'x
                  (arith-exp "+" (var-exp 'x) (int-exp 10))
  (cons 'fn-b
        (fun-val 'x
                  (arith-exp "*" (var-exp 'x) (int-exp 20))
  (cons 'fn-c
        (fun-val 'x
                  (app-exp (var-exp 'fn-a)
                          (app-exp (var-exp 'fn-b) (var-exp 'x)))

This list is suitable for passing as an initial env argument to eval. I.e., after modifying eval to take an initial environment, we can do:

> (eval (desugar (parse '(fn-c 10)))
        (load-defs "test1.defs"))

Critically, define will allow us to define recursive functions. Note that our implementations of lambda and function application in class did not support recursion (it's worth taking some time to make sure you understand why not!). After correctly implementing define, however, we can evaluate a definition like:

(define (sum-to n)
  (if (= n 0)
      (+ n
        (sum-to (- n 1)))))

Et voila:

> (eval (desugar (parse '(sum-to 10)))
        (load-defs "test2.defs"))

This will likely be the toughest part of this machine problem (though it doesn't translate into much code!). The most straightforward implementation does require a new mechanism: a cyclic structure. If you feel up for a challenge and want to figure it out for yourself, check out Immutable Cyclic Data in the Racket documentation.

For more detailed hints, see the "Hint" section in the next section.

Implementation and Starter code

All your changes should be made to "mp2.rkt". It is the only source file we will evaluate.

We provide you with the (slightly amended) interpreter that we wrote together in class. We also provide you with the following starter code for load_defs:

(define (load-defs filename)
  (let* ([sexps (file->list filename)]
         [fn-names (map (compose first second) sexps)])

which reads all the s-expressions (corresponding to define forms) from the named file and returns a list of the function names being defined. You should use it as a starting point.

You are free to add new struct definitions, alter existing structs, define new functions, alter existing functions, etc. Just take care that you do not change the APIs of the parse, desugar, eval, load_defs, and repl functions, as we will be testing those directly.

Hint: On implementing recursion

First of all, recall that a "function value" is a structure that contains a function definition (consisting of parameter names and a body) and a closure. A closure represents the environment at the time the function is created, and is in our case just an associative list.

Here's the structure we defined:

(struct fun-val (id body env) #:transparent)

When we apply this function to an argument, we evaluate its body in the environment env, with a new mapping for the parameter and argument.

Here's the relevant bit from eval:

[(app-exp f arg)
    (match-let ([(fun-val id body clenv) (eval f env)]
                [arg-val (eval arg env)])
      (eval body (cons (cons id arg-val) clenv)))]

Now imagine that the body of the function contains a recursive call (i.e., a call to the function itself). Would we be able to locate the value corresponding to the function's own name?

No! The problem is that when we create a closure, we are saving the "outside" environment, but we are not saving the name of the function itself (which should map to the self-same function value). Here's where we create function values from lambdas in eval:

[(lambda-exp id body)
    (fun-val id body env)] -- env is the closure

See how the function value (and closure) doesn't see its own "name"?

To fix this, your implementation will need to create a cyclic structure. Specifically, you want the closure to refer to the function value in which it is contained.

To create a cyclic structure in Racket, we can use the make-placeholder, placeholder-set!, and make-reader-graph functions. Intuitively, make-placeholder creates a bookmark that can later be filled in by placeholder-set!, and make-reader-graph constructs a graph (which, unlike a tree, may contain cycles) based on these bookmarks.

E.g., to create a cyclic list of the infinitely repeating sequence: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, ..., we can do:

(define inf-list
  (let* ([ph (make-placeholder '())]          ; placeholder with val '()
        [lst (cons 1 (cons 2 (cons 3 ph)))])  ; acyclic list ending with ph
    (placeholder-set! ph lst)  ; replace ph val with list head
    (make-reader-graph lst)))  ; read off the resulting cyclic list

We can use placeholders with Racket structs to create cyclic structures, too. We just need to mark those structs as "prefab", first. E.g., if we modify our function value struct as follows:

(struct fun-val (id body env) #:prefab)

We can do:

(define cyc-env
  (let* ([ph (make-placeholder '())]
         [env (list (cons 'f (fun-val 'x (int-exp 10) ph)))])
    (placeholder-set! ph env)
    (make-reader-graph env)))

And now we have a closure that refers back to the environment in which its associated function is defined!

Check it out:

> cyc-env
#0=(list (cons 'f (fun-val 'x (int-exp 10) #0#)))

> (fun-val-env (cdr (assoc 'f cyc-env)))
#0=(list (cons 'f (fun-val 'x (int-exp 10) #0#)))

(The #0= and #0# notation is to help us visualize the cyclical structure -- those values aren't actually present as data.)


We have provided you with test cases in "mp2-test.rkt" and sample definition files in "test1.defs" and "test2.defs". Feel free to add to and alter any and all tests, as we will be using our own test suite to evaluate your work.

Note that passing all the tests does not guarantee full credit! In particular, we will be checking that your desugaring function correctly transforms the syntax of syntactic sugar to core language forms, and that you aren't using any metacircular hacks.


The core language constructs are worth a total of 24 points:

The syntactic sugar are worth a total of 32 points:

Note that you will only earn full points if you implement them correctly as part of your desugaring process. If you alter your eval function to support them you will lose points.

A fully working define is worth 20 points. You may receive partial credit for a define implementation that is partially correct (e.g., doesn't support recursion).


The maximum possible points = 24 + 32 + 20 = 76.


When you are done with your work, simply commit your changes and push them to our shared private GitHub repository. Please note that your submission date will be based on your most recent push (unless you let us know to grade an earlier version).