[Haskell-cafe] A question about parsec implementation

Xinyu Jiang fnnirvana at gmail.com
Wed Sep 24 00:53:32 EDT 2008

Hi everybody,
  I am trying to port (a part of) the parsec library to scheme. I have read
the paper and the haskell source of parsec, but I still have a problem. May
be the problem is from my lack of parser knowledge, but I have to bother
  Scheme does not support lazy evaluation by default, so I simulated
laziness when implementing finite lookahead. The result was not what I
expected: it slowed down the parser and ate more memory, not speeding it up
and reducing its space leak. If finite lookahead is a real gain, it would
beat the cost of simulating lazy evaluation, which is not much. After
analysis my code, I drew a conclusion (which may be wrong) that if the
grammar you write is LL(1), that is, you don't use the "try" combinator, the
time complexity of the predictive parser and the backtracking parser will be
the same when they both suceed. Because in an LL(1) grammar, any consumed
errors will make the whole parser return errors. Since the behaviors of the
predictive parser and the backtracking parser are the same on LL(1)
grammars, the backtracking parser will only eat more memory than the
predictive parser when it fails. Is my conclusion right? Does parsec perform
better than backtracking parsers on a pure LL(1) grammar when it suceeds? I
am very grateful for your answer, thanks.
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