OOPL

May. 1st, 2009 11:07 am
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (mcapl)
So for the past two weeks I've had a visitor at work, who I shall call NT (since I'm so great at thinking up pseudonyms). He's a PhD student from the Netherlands who has invented a programming language for organisations of agents. I was in favour of calling this language Orwell (the original paper describes them as Orwellian Agents) but NT opted for the rather more prosaic OOPL (Organisation Oriented Programming Language). Somehow, last year at AAMAS, I managed to convince NT's second supervisor that my AIL framework was the obvious implementation platform for this language and we arranged for NT to come to Liverpool to implement it.

Cue much frantic manual writing; OK, some half-hearted manual writing which after about six months' effort resulted in me emailing 94 entirely unproof-read pages to the poor lamb, these representing about 3/4 of a manual. He was remarkably polite about this.

I have been asserting confidently in papers for at least a year that it is easier to implement a language interpreter in my framework than it is to attach a model checker to an existing language (the purpose of the framework being to let you model check your agent programs). So I really shouldn't have been as pleasantly surprised as I was that we managed to write an intepreter for OOPL inside a week. This week included us breaking Windows (so support had to scrub NT's account and do a fresh install) and my frantic attendance at the Automated Reasoning Workshop which was inconsiderately scheduled in Liverpool during the second two days of NT's stay.

We spent this week trying to get the model checker to work and write a parser. In both endeavours we suffered at the hands of other people's tools. The model checker, java pathfinder, is developed at NASA and they've broken it (fortunately, after some messing about, NT and I got our hands on an old version). Meanwhile I struggled to learn to use a parser generator - time taken to work out how to use the tool: two and a half days, time taken to actually write the parser: one day. TBH, if I'd known it was that easy to write parsers I'd have written some long ago rather than assuming they were horrible scary things best steered well clear of.

So all in all a busy but rewarding two weeks.

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