Prototyping parallel functional intermediate languages
Non-strict higher-order functional programming languages are elegant, concise, mathematically sound and contain few environment-specific features, making them obvious candidates for harnessing high-performance architectures. The validity of this approach has been established by a number of experimental compilers. However, while there have been a number of important theoretical developments in the field of parallel functional programming, implementations have been slow to materialise. The myriad design choices and demands of specific architectures lead to protracted development times. Furthermore, the resulting systems tend to be monolithic entities, and are difficult to extend and test, ultimatly discouraging experimentation. The traditional solution to this problem is the use of a rapid prototyping framework. However, as each existing systems tends to prefer one specific platform and a particular way of expressing parallelism (including implicit specification) it is difficult to envisage a general purpose framework. Fortunately, most of these systems have at least one point of commonality: the use of an intermediate form. Typically, these abstract representations explicitly identify all parallel components but without the background noise of syntactic and (potentially arbitrary) implementation details. To this end, this thesis outlines a framework for rapidly prototyping such intermediate languages. Based on the traditional three-phase compiler model, the design process is driven by the development of various semantic descriptions of the language. Executable versions of the specifications help to both debug and informally validate these models. A number of case studies, covering the spectrum of modern implementations, demonstrate the utility of the framework.