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Lab 5: Name Analysis


In this lab, you define name bindings and corresponding constraints for MiniJava in NaBL2. The concepts you are going to use in NaBL2 are described in the following papers:

  1. P. Neron, A. Tolmach, E. Visser, G. Wachsmuth: A Theory of Name Resolution, ESOP 2015
  2. H. van Antwerpen, P. Neron, A. Tolmach, E. Visser, G. Wachsmuth: A Constraint Language for Static Semantic Analysis based on Scope Graphs, PEPM 2016

The official NaBL2 documentation is not entirely up to date. It is better to only use the lab description for now.



Specify name analysis for MiniJava in NaBL2, by specifying a scope graph and resolution constraints. The specification should include:

  1. Scope graph constraints for
    • class declarations
    • class references
    • field declarations
    • method declarations
    • parameter declarations
    • variable declarations
    • field, parameter, and variable references
  2. Resolution constraints for
    • class references
    • method references
    • parameter references
    • field references
    • variable references
  3. Constraints for
    • duplicate definitions of classes, fields, parameters, and variables
    • variable declarations which hide parameter or field declarations
  4. Properties on
    • variable declarations to indicate whether they are fields, parameters, or local variables


You need to submit your MiniJava project with a pull request against branch assignment5 on GitHub. The Git documentation explains how to file such a request.

The deadline for submissions is November 11th, 23:59.


You can earn up to 100 points for the correctness of your name analysis. Therefore, we run several test cases against your implementation. You earn points, when your implementation passes test cases. The total number of points depends on how many test cases you pass in each of the following groups:

  • name binding (45 points)
    • class declarations and references (7 points)
    • field declarations (7 points)
    • parameter declarations (5 points)
    • variable declarations and references (5 points)
    • scopes of program, classes, and methods (18 points)
  • constraints (45 points)
    • unresolved references (20 points)
    • duplicate definitions (20 points)
    • hiding variables (5 points)
  • challenge (10 points)

Early Feedback

We provide early feedback for your language implementation. This feedback gives you an indication which parts of your implementation might still be wrong. It includes a summary on how many tests you pass and how many points you earn by passing them. You have 3 early feedback attempts.

Detailed Instructions


Updating Spoofax

A new version of Spoofax is required for this lab. See the Spoofax documentation on how to update Spoofax.

GitHub Repository

We provide you with a template for this assignment in the assignment5 branch. See the Git documentation on how to check out this branch.

Constraint generation rules

Name binding is specified as constraint generation rules in .nabl2 files. NaBL2 files must go in the trans/analysis directory. The module name at the top of the file should match the filename relative to trans. For example, the file trans/analysis/minijava.nabl2 starts as:

module analysis/minijava

The rules match on an AST constructor, and get one or more scopes as an argument. The initial project contains an init rule that creates the initial global scope. The general schema for these rules looks like this:


    [[ <Pattern> ^ (<{Scope ","}*>) ]] :=

Multiple constraints are separated by commas. The constraint true always succeeds. Inspect the signature files in reference/src-gen/signatures/ for the available constructors.

There can only be one rule that matches on a certain constructor. It is possible and recommended to split the rules over multiple files.

There is no implicit traversal of the AST. This means the rules should be complete: there must be a rule for every constructor you want to visit.

Name Binding


Different kinds of names can be kept separate by putting them in a different namespace. For example, variables live in the Var namespace. A name with a namespace and an (implicit) AST position is called an occurrence, and written as Var{x}, where Var is the namespace, and x the name.

Namespaces are declared as part of the name of the name resolution parameters. Put the following in one of your *.nabl2 files:


    name resolution
        namespaces Var // ... space separated list of namespaces ...

For this assignment it is required to use the Var namespace for fields, method parameters, and local variables.

Declarations and references

References and declarations are specified as occurrences with arrows going to and from scopes respectively. Reference resolution can be thought of as finding a path in the scope graph from the reference to a declaration with the same name. For example the rules for variable declarations and references, both in the current scope, look like this:


    [[ Var(_,x) ^ (s) ]] :=
        Var{x} <- s.

    [[ VarRef(x) ^ (s) ]] :=
        Var{x} -> s.

Note that specifying declarations and references like this does not imply that references must resolve. To ensure this, you must add resolution constraints, described below.

Introducing new scopes

New scopes can be created and passed down to children in the AST using new and recursive calls to the constraint generation rules. The following example creates a new scope s', adds an edge to the current scope s, and passes it as the current scope in the recursive call for the subterm e.


    [[ Method(_, _, _, _, _, e) ^ (s) ]] :=
        new s',
        s' ---> s,
        [[ e ^ (s') ]].

The term in the recursive call must be a variable from your match pattern.

There are some default rules to traverse a list of terms. For example to traverse all class definition in a program, you can write:


    [[ Program(_,cs) ^ (s) ]] :=
        // ...
        Map1 [[ cs ^ (s) ]].

The rule Map1 takes one scope parameter. There is also a rule Map2 that takes two parameters. These rules are implemented in NaBL2, so it is possible to write such named rules yourself as well. See stdlib/map.nabl2 for the implementation of these rules.

Importing scopes by name

Scopes can also be imported by name, instead of using parent edges. Imports always require a pair of constraints, one that associates a name with a scope, and one the imports a reference into a scope. The constraints are written as:

  • <Occurrence> ===> <Scope> associates the scope with the given declaration.
  • <Occurrence> <=== <Scope> imports a reference into the scope. The declarations in the associated scope of the resolved reference are now visible in the importing scope.

The references and declarations used in the previous two constraints still need to be introduced explicitly in the graph.


Name resolution

A reference in the scope graph must resolve to a declaration. This is specified with a resolution constraint. Usually the right hand side of the constraint is a variable that will get the value of the declaration that the reference refers to. In the following example, we capture the declaration in the variable d. Note that d here is a meta-variable, that is, it is a variable in the rule, not a variable in MiniJava.


    [[ VarRef(x) ^ (s) ]] :=
        Var{x} -> s,
        Var{x} |-> d.

Custom errors and warnings

It is possible to control the errors and warnings that are generated if a constraint fails.


    [[ VarRef(x) ^ (s) ]] :=
        Var{x} -> s,
        Var{x} |-> d | <Severity> <Message> <Location>.

The severity is one of error, warning, or note. The message is optional and can be 1) a literal string "variable not found", or 2) a formatted message $[Cannot find variable [x]]. The default error location is the matched term, but it can be specified explicitly using @t, where t is a variable from your match pattern.

Sets of names

The following constraints can be used to restrict the names that can appear in scopes:

  • distinct <Nameset>
  • <Nameset> subseteq <Nameset>

The constraint <Nameset> seteq <Nameset> is desugared to two subseteq constraints.

The following sets of names are available (for a given scope s):

  • all declarations D(<Scope>)/<Namespace>,
  • all references R(<Scope>)/<Namespace>,
  • all (transitively) visible declarations V(<Scope>)/<Namespace>,
  • and all reachable (including shadowed) declarations W(<Scope>)/<Namespace>.

For example, D(s)/Var would give all variable declarations in s.

You can write expressions to get the set of names you are interested in, using the following operators:

  • union (<Nameset> union <Nameset>),
  • intersection (<Nameset> isect <Nameset>),
  • and set different (<Nameset> minus <Nameset>).

Note that sets of names behave like multisets. For example, X diff Y where X contains two xs and Y contains one x will result in a set with one x.

Error messages on subseteq and distinct constraints can use two special keywords. The position can be @NAMES, in which case the error will appear on the relevant names. In a formatted message NAME can be used to insert the name in the message.

Note that if you use set expressions in your constraint, the order in which you do the operations can be important to get the error on the right name.

Origin properties on variable declarations

Properties can be set on declarations with a constraint <Namespace>{<Term>}.<NAME> := <Term>. In this lab you must set a property origin on Var declarations.

  • Fields must get an origin Field()
  • Parameters must get an origin Param()
  • Local variables must get an origin Local()

It is important for grading to use these exact property and constructor names.

You will need to define these constructors by adding a signature section of a Stratego file, e.g. trans/analysis.str. Stratego signatures define new constructors that you can use, and are written as:

module analysis

// ...

    <ConstructorName> : <SortName>

// ...

The sort name is not important, but if you do not know what to use, use Origin.


In lab 7 we need to test that an overriding method has the same type as the overridden method in the parent class. For every method declaration, we want to introduce a reference, that resolves to its overridden method. For example, consider the following situation:

class Foo {
    public int m() {
        return 1;
class Bar extends Foo {
    public int m() {
        return 1;

The declaration of Bar.m() should introduce a reference to Foo.m(). Of course just introducing a reference in the parent scope is not enough, because this will result in an error for Foo.m() which does not override any method. The challenge is to create a reference that resolves to the overridden method if it exists, and to its own method declaration otherwise.

It is possible to encode this logic in the scope graph by modifying edge labels, the specificity order of labels, and the well-formedness regular expression on paths. By default the parameters for name binding are the following:


  name resolution

      P I

      D < I,
      D < P,
      I < P

      P* . I*

The label P is the default label for edges between scope. This can be written explicitly with the constraint s' -P-> s. The label I is the default label for imports, and can also be written explicitly as d =I=> s and s =I=> r. Note that scopes can have multiple outgoing edges, which can have different labels.

The well-formedness is a regular expression on path labels, that rules out paths that do not match it. In the default case, it means that after an import, you cannot resolve in a parent scope anymore. The regular expressions on labels have the following syntax:

  • e is the empty string
  • 0 is the empty language (i.e., it matches nothing)
  • <Label> is a literal label
  • ~<Regexp> is the complement (e.g., ~0 matches anything)
  • <Regexp>* is the closure (i.e., match zero or more)
  • <Regexp> . <Regexp> is concatenation (e.g., P . I matches one parent edge followed by an import)
  • <Regexp> | <Regexp> is a logical or (e.g., P | I matches a parent or an import edge)
  • <Regexp> & <Regexp> is a logical and (i.e., both expressions must match)
  • (<Regexp>) brackets can be used for grouping