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Communications of the ACM

On the automatic simplification of source-language programs


Methods of simplification that can be applied automatically to programs written in an ALGOL-like language are discussed. The simplifications are based on the form of the program and the knowledge obtained by a processor, without any understanding of what the program is supposed to do. These methods have been implemented in a processor called SURE that accepts a program written in JOVIAL and outputs an equivalent JOVIAL program that may be shorter and may be executed faster than the original. SURE is described, some of the problems encountered in automatic improvement at the source-language level are discussed, and further types of automatic program improvement are suggested.

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