Mon 20 - Fri 24 October 2014 Portland, Oregon, United States

Despite the advances made by modern parsing strategies such as PEG, LL(), GLR, and GLL, parsing is not a solved problem. Existing approaches suffer from a number of weaknesses, including difficulties supporting side-effecting embedded actions, slow and/or unpredictable performance, and counterintuitive matching strategies. This paper introduces the ALL() parsing strategy that combines the simplicity, efficiency, and predictability of conventional top-down LL(k) parsers with the power of a GLR-like mechanism to make parsing decisions. The critical innovation is to move grammar analysis to parse-time, which lets ALL() handle any non-left-recursive context-free grammar. ALL() is O(n^4) in theory but consistently performs linearly on grammars used in practice, outperforming general strategies such as GLL and GLR by orders of magnitude. ANTLR 4 generates ALL() parsers and supports direct left-recursion through grammar rewriting. Widespread ANTLR 4 use (5000 downloads/month in 2013) provides evidence that ALL() is effective for a wide variety of applications.