Language and compiler support for mixin programming

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Date

2002-05

Authors

Cardone, Richard Joseph

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Abstract

The need to reduce the cost of software development and maintenance has been a constant and overriding concern since the advent of electronic computing. The difficulty, and therefore the expense, in programming large software applications is due to the complex interactions and interdependencies in application code. These interdependencies increase costs by making code hard to understand, hard to change, and hard to reuse. For over a half century, the need to reduce code complexity has been the driving force behind the trend to program at higher levels of abstraction with increased code modularity. This dissertation takes a step towards increasing code modularity by showing that mixin generic types can be used effectively to build applications from reusable software components. First, we address issues of language definition and integration. We show how mixins can be integrated into a modern programming language to support a methodology of incremental software construction. We viii identify novel language and compiler features that make programming with mixins convenient and efficient. Second, we address issues of implementation and evaluation. We implement a critical subset of mixin language support in a compiler. We then use our compiler to show that mixins increase code reuse compared to current technologies; to show that application development and maintenance can be simplified using mixins; and to show that our novel language features simplify mixin programming. In addition, we discuss language implementation issues and define a new design pattern useful in mixin programming.

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