# Kaleidoscope: Kaleidoscope Introduction and the Lexer¶

## The Kaleidoscope Language¶

This tutorial is illustrated with a toy language called “Kaleidoscope” (derived from “meaning beautiful, form, and view”). Kaleidoscope is a procedural language that allows you to define functions, use conditionals, math, etc. Over the course of the tutorial, we’ll extend Kaleidoscope to support the if/then/else construct, a for loop, user defined operators, JIT compilation with a simple command line interface, debug info, etc.

We want to keep things simple, so the only datatype in Kaleidoscope is a 64-bit floating point type (aka ‘double’ in C parlance). As such, all values are implicitly double precision and the language doesn’t require type declarations. This gives the language a very nice and simple syntax. For example, the following simple example computes Fibonacci numbers:

```# Compute the x'th fibonacci number.
def fib(x)
if x < 3 then
1
else
fib(x-1)+fib(x-2)

# This expression will compute the 40th number.
fib(40)
```

We also allow Kaleidoscope to call into standard library functions - the LLVM JIT makes this really easy. This means that you can use the ‘extern’ keyword to define a function before you use it (this is also useful for mutually recursive functions). For example:

```extern sin(arg);
extern cos(arg);
extern atan2(arg1 arg2);

atan2(sin(.4), cos(42))
```

A more interesting example is included in Chapter 6 where we write a little Kaleidoscope application that displays a Mandelbrot Set at various levels of magnification.

Let’s dive into the implementation of this language!

## The Lexer¶

When it comes to implementing a language, the first thing needed is the ability to process a text file and recognize what it says. The traditional way to do this is to use a “lexer” (aka ‘scanner’) to break the input up into “tokens”. Each token returned by the lexer includes a token code and potentially some metadata (e.g. the numeric value of a number). First, we define the possibilities:

```// The lexer returns tokens [0-255] if it is an unknown character, otherwise one
// of these for known things.
enum Token {
tok_eof = -1,

// commands
tok_def = -2,
tok_extern = -3,

// primary
tok_identifier = -4,
tok_number = -5,
};

static std::string IdentifierStr; // Filled in if tok_identifier
static double NumVal;             // Filled in if tok_number
```

Each token returned by our lexer will either be one of the Token enum values or it will be an ‘unknown’ character like ‘+’, which is returned as its ASCII value. If the current token is an identifier, the `IdentifierStr` global variable holds the name of the identifier. If the current token is a numeric literal (like 1.0), `NumVal` holds its value. We use global variables for simplicity, but this is not the best choice for a real language implementation :).

The actual implementation of the lexer is a single function named `gettok`. The `gettok` function is called to return the next token from standard input. Its definition starts as:

```/// gettok - Return the next token from standard input.
static int gettok() {
static int LastChar = ' ';

// Skip any whitespace.
while (isspace(LastChar))
LastChar = getchar();
```

`gettok` works by calling the C `getchar()` function to read characters one at a time from standard input. It eats them as it recognizes them and stores the last character read, but not processed, in LastChar. The first thing that it has to do is ignore whitespace between tokens. This is accomplished with the loop above.

The next thing `gettok` needs to do is recognize identifiers and specific keywords like “def”. Kaleidoscope does this with this simple loop:

```if (isalpha(LastChar)) { // identifier: [a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9]*
IdentifierStr = LastChar;
while (isalnum((LastChar = getchar())))
IdentifierStr += LastChar;

if (IdentifierStr == "def")
if (IdentifierStr == "extern")
}
```

Note that this code sets the ‘`IdentifierStr`’ global whenever it lexes an identifier. Also, since language keywords are matched by the same loop, we handle them here inline. Numeric values are similar:

```if (isdigit(LastChar) || LastChar == '.') {   // Number: [0-9.]+
std::string NumStr;
do {
NumStr += LastChar;
LastChar = getchar();
} while (isdigit(LastChar) || LastChar == '.');

NumVal = strtod(NumStr.c_str(), 0);
}
```

This is all pretty straightforward code for processing input. When reading a numeric value from input, we use the C `strtod` function to convert it to a numeric value that we store in `NumVal`. Note that this isn’t doing sufficient error checking: it will incorrectly read “1.23.45.67” and handle it as if you typed in “1.23”. Feel free to extend it! Next we handle comments:

```if (LastChar == '#') {
// Comment until end of line.
do
LastChar = getchar();
while (LastChar != EOF && LastChar != '\n' && LastChar != '\r');

if (LastChar != EOF)
return gettok();
}
```

We handle comments by skipping to the end of the line and then return the next token. Finally, if the input doesn’t match one of the above cases, it is either an operator character like ‘+’ or the end of the file. These are handled with this code:

```  // Check for end of file.  Don't eat the EOF.
if (LastChar == EOF)