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Compiling a 50-year journey*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2017

School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK (e-mail:
Department of Computer Science, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (e-mail:
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Fifty years ago, John McCarthy and James Painter (1967) published the first paper on compiler verification, in which they showed how to formally prove the correctness of a compiler that translates arithmetic expressions into code for a register-based machine. In this article, we revisit this example in a modern context, and show how such a compiler can now be calculated directly from a specification of its correctness using simple equational reasoning techniques.

Functional Pearls
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 



Graham Hutton was funded by EPSRC grant EP/P00587X/1, Unified Reasoning About Program Correctness and Efficiency.


Bahr, P. & Hutton, G. (2015) Calculating correct compilers. Journal of Functional Programming, 25, 47 pages.Google Scholar
Hutton, G. (2016) Programming in Haskell. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
McCarthy, J. & Painter, J. (1967) Correctness of a compiler for arithmetic expressions. In Mathematical Aspects of Computer Science, Proceedings of Symposia in Applied Mathematics, vol. 19. American Mathematical Society.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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