Mill Computing, Inc. Forums The Mill Tools Simulators Simulation Reply To: Simulation

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A couple more thoughts/opinions about Forth (or another small, interpreted language) for the Mill:

1. Several common Forth words (for example swap and drop) are in conflict with the Belt’s single assignment nature. We could use the conform and rescue operations to force-fit Forth’s semantics onto the belt, but that seems ugly and problematic — unless there’s some real desire to have Forth per se, on the Mill. If that ugliness were hidden inside the interpreter, I could grit my teeth and live with it. The advantage of porting Forth is that it’d be “just” a port of an existing, well documented interpreter design, and then existing Forth code could be (relatively) quickly up and running on the Mill and be demonstrated to interested parties.

2. Even a minimalist interpreter would need (the functional equivalents of) working memory, std-input/keyboard, std-output/console and persistent storage. Having std-error would also be nice. Compared to modern languages and CPUs, a Forth-like interpreter would have rather modest needs for working memory and persistent storage. If we want to get something running — and not tear out hair trying to code it in ConAsm, then we’d need genAsm to support basic memory operations (load, store and hopefully stack alloc./cutback) and something (simulator outcalls?) to serve as std-input and std-output. If the interpreter is running on a simulated Mill (seems likely short term), then a we could probably make a specified address range of simulated memory simulate non-volatile memory, thus finessing persistent storage (or perhaps simulate all memory as persistent.)

3. Although APL brings back other fond memories (e.g. of writing Dungeons and Dragons support code on an IBM 5100), I think an interpreted language that does scalar ops well is a better near-term target. I suggest leaving vectorization wizardry for version 2.

4. While this kind of preliminary arm waving is fun, I think we need some clarity on how such an interpreted language could be used to help bootstrap the Mill into quicker and broader interest and use. I don’t want to go all UML on folks, but what should be our key use case(s) for Forth or similar on the Mill?

Thoughts, opinions, corrections? Please chime in!