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Chapter: Principles of Compiler Design : Syntax Analysis and Run-Time Environments

Important Short Questions and Answers: Syntax Analysis and Run-Time Environments

Principles of Compiler Design - Syntax Analysis and Run-Time Environments : Important Short Questions and Answers: Syntax Analysis and Run-Time Environments


1.     What is the output of syntax analysis phase? What are the three general types of parsers for grammars?


Parser (or) parse tree is the output of syntax analysis phase. General types of parsers:


1)    Universal parsing

2)    Top-down

3)    Bottom-up


2.     What are the different strategies that a parser can employ to recover from a syntactic error?


 Panic mode 

 Phrase level

 Error productions 

 Global correction

3.     What are the goals of error handler in a parser?

The error handler in a parser has simple-to-state goals:


·     It should report the presence of errors clearly and accurately

·     It should recover from each error quickly enough to be able to detect subsequent errors.

·     It should not significantly slow down the processing of correct programs



4. What is phrase level error recovery?


On discovering an error, a parser may perform local correction on the remaining input; that is, it may replace a prefix of the remaining input by some string that allows the parser to continue. This is known as phrase level error recovery.


5.     How will you define a context free grammar?


A context free grammar consists of terminals, non-terminals, a start symbol, and productions.


i.           Terminals are the basic symbols from which strings are formed. “Token” is a synonym for terminal. Ex: if, then, else.


ii.           Nonterminals are syntactic variables that denote sets of strings, which help define the language generated by the grammar. Ex: stmt, expr.


iii.           Start symbol is one of the nonterminals in a grammar and the set of strings it denotes is the language defined by the grammar. Ex: S.

iv.          The productions of a grammar specify the manner in which the terminals and

nonterminals can be combined to form strings Ex: expr


6.     Define context free language. When will you say that two CFGs are equal?

·     A language that can be generated by a grammar is said to be a context free language.


·     If two grammars generate the same language, the grammars are said to be equivalent.


7.     Differentiate sentence and sentential form.



8. Give the definition for leftmost and canonical derivations.


·     Derivations in which only the leftmost nonterminal in any sentential form is replaced at each step are termed leftmost derivations


·     Derivations in which the rightmost nonterminal is replaced at each step are termed canonical derivations.


9.     What is a parse tree?


A parse tree may be viewed as a graphical representation for a derivation that filters out the choice regarding replacement order. Each interior node of a parse tree is labeled by some nonterminal A and that the children of the node are labeled from left to

right by symbols in the right side of the production by which this A was replaced in the derivation. The leaves of the parse tree are terminal symbols.


10.            What is an ambiguous grammar? Give an example.


·     A grammar that produces more than one parse tree for some sentence is said to be ambiguous


·     An ambiguous grammar is one that produces more than one leftmost or rightmost derivation for the same sentence.




E-> E+E / E*E / id


11.            Why do we use regular expressions to define the lexical syntax of a language?


i.           The lexical rules of a language are frequently quite simple, and to describe them we do not need a notation as powerful as grammars.


ii.           Regular expressions generally provide a more concise and easier to understand notation for tokens than grammars.


iii.           More efficient lexical analyzers can be constructed automatically from regular expressions than from arbitrary grammars.


iv.          Separating the syntactic structure of a language into lexical and non lexical parts provides a convenient way of modularizing the front end of a compiler into two manageable-sized components.


12.            When will you call a grammar as the left recursive one?

A grammar is a left recursive if it has a nonterminal A such that there is a derivation

A->Aα for some string α.


13.            Define left factoring.

Left factoring is a grammar transformation that is useful for producing a grammar suitable for predictive parsing. The basic idea is that when it is not clear which of two alternative productions to use to expand a nonterminal “A”, we may be able to rewrite the “A” productions to refer the decision until we have seen enough of the input to make the right choice.


14. Left factor the following grammar:

S → iEtS | iEtSeS |a


E → b.


Ans: The left factored grammar is,


S → iEtSS′ | a


S′ → eS | ε

E → b


15. What is parsing?

Parsing is the process of determining if a string of tokens can be generated by a grammar.


16. What is Top Down parsing?


Starting with the root, labeled, does the top-down construction of a parse tree with the starting nonterminal, repeatedly performing the following steps.


i.           At node n, labeled with non terminal “A”, select one of the productions for “A” and construct children at n for the symbols on the right side of the production.

ii.           Find the next node at which a sub tree is to be constructed.





17.            What do you mean by Recursive Descent Parsing?


Recursive Descent Parsing is top down method of syntax analysis in which we execute a set of recursive procedures to process the input. A procedure is associated with each nonterminal of a grammar.


18. What is meant by Predictive parsing?


A special form of Recursive Descent parsing, in which the look-ahead symbol unambiguously determines the procedure selected for each nonterminal, where no backtracking is required.


19. Define Bottom Up Parsing.


Parsing method in which construction starts at the leaves and proceeds towards the root is called as Bottom Up Parsing.


20. What is Shift-Reduce parsing?


A general style of bottom-up syntax analysis, which attempts to construct a parse tree for an input string beginning at the leaves and working up towards the root.


21.            Define handle. What do you mean by handle pruning?


·     An Handle of a string is a sub string that matches the right side of production and whose reduction to the nonterminal on the left side of the production represents one step along the reverse of a rightmost derivation.


·     The process of obtaining rightmost derivation in reverse is known as Handle Pruning.


22.            Define LR (0) items.

An LR (0) item of a grammar G is a production of G with a dot at some position of the right side. Thus the production A → XYZ yields the following four items,



A → .XYZ


A → X.YZ

A → XY.Z


A → XYZ.


23.            What do you mean by viable prefixes?


·     The set of prefixes of right sentential forms that can appear on the stack of a shift-reduce parser are called viable prefixes.


·     A viable prefix is that it is a prefix of a right sentential form that does not continue the past the right end of the rightmost handle of that sentential form.


24.            What is meant by an operator grammar? Give an example.

A grammar is operator grammar if,


i.           No production rule involves “a” on the right side.


ii.           No production has two adjacent nonterminals on the right side..




E → E+E | E-E | E*E | E/E | EE | (E) | -E | id


25.            What are the disadvantages of operator precedence parsing? May/June 2007

i.           It is hard to handle tokens like the minus sign, which has two different precedences.


ii.           Since the relationship between a grammar for the language being parsed and the operator – precedence parser itself is tenuous, one cannot always be sure the parser accepts exactly the desired language.


iii.           Only a small class of grammars can be parsed using operator precedence techniques.


26.            State error recovery in operator-Precedence Parsing.


There are two points in the parsing process at which an operator-precedence parser can discover the syntactic errors:


i.           If no precedence relation holds between the terminal on top of the stack and the current input.


ii.           If a handle has been found, but there is no production with this handle as a right side.

27.            LR (k) parsing stands for what?


The “L” is for left-to-right scanning of the input, the “R” for constructing a rightmost derivation in reverse, and the k for the number of input symbols of lookahead that are used in making parsing decisions.


28.            Why LR parsing is attractive one?


·     LR parsers can be constructed to recognize virtually all programming language constructs for which context free grammars can be written.


·     The LR parsing method is the, most general nonbacktracking shift-reduce parsing method known, yet it can be implemented as efficiently as other shift reduce methods.


·     The class of grammars that can be parsed using LR methods is a proper superset of the class of grammars that can be parsed with predictive parsers.


·     An LR parser can detect a syntactic error as soon as it is possible to do so on a left-to-right scan of the input.


29.What is meant by goto function in LR parser? Give an example.


·     The function goto takes a state and grammar symbol as arguments and produces a state.


·     The goto function of a parsing table constructed from a grammar G is the transition function of a DFA that recognizes the viable prefixes of G.


Ex: goto(I,X)


Where I is a set of items and X is a grammar symbol to be the closure of the set of all items [A→αX.ẞ] such that [A→α.X ẞ] is in I


30. Write the configuration of an LR parser?


A configuration of an LR parser is a pair whose first component is the stack contents and whose second component is the unexpended input:


(s0 X1 s1 X2 s2 …Xm sm , ai ai+1 … an $)


31. Define LR grammar.


A grammar for which we can construct a parsing table is said to be an LR grammar.


32.                        What are kernel and non kernel items?Nov/Dec 2005

i.           The set of items which include the initial item, SS, and all items whose dots are not at the left end are known as kernel items.


ii.           The set of items, which have their dots at the left end, are known as non kernel items.


33.                        Why SLR and LALR are more economical to construct than canonical LR?


For a comparison of parser size, the SLR and LALR tables for a grammar always have the same number of states, and this number is typically several hundred states for a language like Pascal. The canonical LR table would typically have several thousand states for the same size language. Thus, it is much easier and more economical to construct SLR and LALR tables than the canonical LR tables.


34.                        What is ambiguous grammer? Give an example.


A grammer G is said to be ambiguous if it generates more than one parse trees for sentence of language L(G).


Example: E-> E+E|E*E|id


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