Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog


The AST (Abstract Syntax Tree) is just a data structure describing the source. It may lose a bit of information (e.g., whitespace), or it may not. It's not magic, it carries no extra information. It's very handy when you need to programmatically read the source, but it doesn't endow any special powers or information that original text didn't already have. But that's the same as what Java is doing, too, it's just that the Java source contains some pertinant information that Python or Smalltalk does not contain. So "text" vs. "whatever it is Java uses to represent source" is probably a bad way of describing the difference. It's really a question of what kind of reasoning you can do given the source.

As far as Ada, sure. But then, it was an example of a statically defined contract -- while Ada satisfies the example, that's not a case of contracts. I don't know much about Ada, so maybe it does provide all this contractural information, but whatever it is, it's more complex than can be expressed in terms of types.
Comment on Static Code Analysis
by Ian Bicking