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Embedded domain specific language

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Embedded Domain Specific Language means that you embed a Domain specific language in a language like Haskell. E.g. using the Functional MetaPost library you can write Haskell expressions, which are then translated to MetaPost, MetaPost is run on the generated code and the result of MetaPost can be post-processed in Haskell.

1 Degree of embedding

There are two major degrees of embedding:

  • Shallow embedding: All Haskell operations immediately translate to the target language. E.g. the Haskell expression
    a+b
    is translated to a
    String
    like
    "a + b"
    containing that target language expression.
  • Deep embedding: Haskell operations only build an interim Haskell data structure that reflects the expression tree. E.g. the Haskell expression
    a+b
    is translated to the Haskell data structure
    Add (Var "a") (Var "b")
    . This structure allows transformations like optimizations before translating to the target language.

2 Discussion of common problems

Sharing and recursion are common problems when implementing DSLs. Often some kind of observable sharing is requested that requires a deep embedding.