On: raising the semantic level of a program

Stan Sieler sieler at allegro.com
Fri Jun 26 19:20:19 CDT 2020

A friend kindly searched and found an interesting paper from 1973,

Programming by semantic refinement
<https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/390014.808298> JB Morris - ACM SIGPLAN
Notices, 1973 - dl.acm.org.

While an interesting paper, it's going the opposite direction (essentially,
going from an English language description down to a final programming

But, using the L1 (highest level language), L2, ..., Ln (lowest level
language) concept, I can phrase my concept better ... so ...

Most programmers write at, say, the level of L3.
They might write something like:

           mem [foo].head = something

My "raising the semantic level" would be:

    #define HEAD(x).  mem [x].head
    HEAD (foo) = something

With a fair set of macros like that (HEAD, TAIL, etc), the program is now
effectively written in a "new" language, L2 (a higher level language than

Being written in L2, the resulting code is more readable to everyone,
partially because they aren't continually seeing the implementation of how
".head" / "mem" work/interact.

In effect, the programmer has added a feature (linked list handling,
perhaps) to L3 ... for that particular program, seemingly extending/raising
the level of the language.

It's that concept that I thought I saw sometime in the early 1970s :)



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