Multiple Choice Questions with Answers on Compiler Design

Compiler Design

A compiler is a software program responsible for converting high-level language to a low-level language (object/target language) and also reports errors present in source programs. There are two types of compilers: single-pass compilers and multi-pass compilers. The compilation process consists of two phases: analysis and synthesis. The five phases of a compiler are lexical analyzer, syntax analyzer, semantic analyzer, intermediate code generator, code optimizer, and target code generator.

Types of Compilers

  • Single-pass compilers - process the source code only once
  • Multi-pass compilers - process the source code multiple times to convert high-level language to low-level language

Phases of the Compilation Process

  • Analysis - breaks up the source code/program into small parts and creates an intermediate representation of the source program
  • Synthesis - takes the intermediate representation of the source program as input and creates the desired target code/program

Phases of a Compiler

  • Lexical Analyzer - reads the program and converts it into tokens using the Lex tool, defines tokens using regular expressions, and removes white spaces, comments, and tabs
  • Syntax Analyzer - constructs the parse tree using CFG to represent what the program actually is, checks whether the input is in the desired format or not
  • Semantic Analyzer - verifies if the parse tree is meaningful, uses parse tree and symbol table info to check the source program for semantic consistency with the language definition
  • Intermediate Code Generator - generates intermediate code such as three address codes
  • Code Optimizer - attempts to improve the intermediate code so that it runs faster and consumes fewer resources
  • Target Code Generator - generates the target code/assembly code

Symbol Table

  • The data structure used by the compiler to store all information related to identifiers such as their types, scope, location name, etc.
  • Helps the compiler find the identifiers quickly
  • All the phases interact with the symbol table manager

Error Handler

Module responsible for handling errors encountered during compilation by detecting each error, reporting it to the user, and implementing them to handle errors


A set of rules that define the valid structure of a particular language. Consists of four components: set of terminals, set of non-terminals, set of productions, and start symbol designated as the non-terminal from where the production begins.

Syntactic Analysis

Lexical analysis is the process of dividing the input into a list of tokens or lexemes.

Syntactic analysis, also known as parsing, is the process of analyzing the tokens to determine their grammatical structure according to a given grammar. This process converts the linear stream of tokens from lexical analysis into a tree-like structure, known as a parse tree or syntax tree.

Therefore, the correct answer is: Syntax analysis.

// Example implementation of syntax analysis in Python using the nltk module

import nltk
from nltk.parse import RecursiveDescentParser

# Define grammar
grammar = nltk.CFG.fromstring("""
    S -> NP VP
    NP -> Det N | N
    VP -> V NP
    Det -> 'the' | 'a'
    N -> 'dog' | 'cat' | 'ball'
    V -> 'chased' | 'played with'

# Create parser and parse sentence
rd_parser = RecursiveDescentParser(grammar)
sentence = "the dog chased the ball"
for tree in rd_parser.parse(sentence.split()):

What Output Does a Bottom-Up Parser Generate?

A bottom-up parser generates the output of a rightmost derivation in reverse.


What is the Bottom-Up Parsing Method?

Bottom-up parsing is a popular parsing method in computer science that analyzes and constructs the parse tree of the input code. It is also known as shift-reduce parsing.

This method begins with the input symbols or terminals and applies a set of grammar rules in a bottom-up manner to construct the parse tree.

Other parsing methods include predictive parsing and recursive descent parsing.

Merge Loop Bodies

In computer programming, the merging of two loops' bodies is known as loop jamming. It is a technique that combines two loops with comparable functionality and loop variables into a single loop to create a more efficient program. Loop jamming can help save memory and increase performance, among other things.

Therefore, the correct answer for the method that merges the bodies of two loops is loop jamming.


Compiler Types and Incremental Compiler

Out of the given compiler types, incremental compiler allows only the modified sections of the source code to be recompiled.

Incremental Compiler

Best Data Structure for Symbol Table Implementation

In the context of symbol table implementation, the data structure that has the minimum access time is the Hash Table. This data structure allows for constant time complexity O(1) and is considered the most efficient in terms of accessing values in a symbol table.

Other data structures like Self-organizing list, Search tree and Linear may have higher access time complexity depending on the size of the symbol table being implemented. However, Hash table provides the best performance for symbol table implementation due to its constant time complexity.


A top-down parser generates a leftmost derivation in reverse. This means that the parser begins at the start symbol and works downward to generate the input string. At each step, the parser chooses a production rule based on the leftmost non-terminal in the stack.

Identifying the Most Powerful Parser

Out of the four parser types mentioned, Canonical LR is considered the most powerful parser.

# Code to demonstrate parsing using Canonical LR parser

# Import the necessary libraries and modules import ply.yacc as yacc

# Define the grammar rules def p_expression_plus(p): '''expression : expression '+' term''' p[0] = p[1] + p[3]

def p_expression_minus(p): '''expression : expression '-' term''' p[0] = p[1] - p[3]

def p_expression_term(p): '''expression : term''' p[0] = p[1]

def p_term_times(p): '''term : term '*' factor''' p[0] = p[1] * p[3]

def p_term_div(p): '''term : term '/' factor''' p[0] = p[1] / p[3]

def p_term_factor(p): '''term : factor''' p[0] = p[1]

def p_factor_num(p): '''factor : NUMBER''' p[0] = p[1]

def p_factor_expr(p): '''factor : '(' expression ')' ''' p[0] = p[2]

# Define the yacc parser parser = yacc.yacc()

# Test the parser with an example input result = parser.parse('2 + 3 * (4 - 1)') print(result)

In the above code, we have implemented parsing using the Canonical LR parser. This parser is powerful because it has the ability to handle a wide range of context-free grammars and can also handle grammars that are not LR(1) but belong to a larger class called LALR(1) grammars.

Languages and Grammars

Simulated synthesized attributes can be achieved through LR grammar.

// LR grammar code example
S → A
A → aB
B → bB
B → ε

The above LR grammar code uses the following productions:

  • S is a non-terminal symbol that can be replaced by the set of production rules A.
  • A is a non-terminal symbol that can be replaced by the set of production rules aB.
  • B is a non-terminal symbol that can be replaced by the set of production rules bB or ε
  • ε is the empty string.

By using LR grammar, it is possible to dynamically synthesize attributes according to the semantic actions present in the grammar.

Rename Top-down Parsing

The alternative and widely-used term for Top-down parsing is "Recursive Descent Parsing".

Understanding Phase of Structured Grammar

In structured grammar, the most general phase is known as context-sensitive grammar. This phase is more general than regular and context-free grammar, as it allows more complex production rules. Context-sensitive grammar rules depend on the context of the symbol being replaced, which means a symbol may be replaced with different strings based on the surrounding symbols. This results in a more expressive and flexible grammar. So, the correct answer is "Context-sensitive".

Technique for Replacing Run-Time Computations with Compile-Time Computations

The technique used to replace run-time computations with compile-time computations is called constant folding. This technique involves evaluating expressions at compile-time instead of run-time to optimize the performance of the program. By evaluating expressions at compile-time, the program can avoid performing the same calculations repeatedly at run-time, resulting in faster execution. This can be particularly useful in time-critical applications such as real-time systems and embedded systems.

Identifying the Class of Statement That Does Not Produce Executable Code

In computer programming, a statement is a line of code that performs a specific task or action. When the code is compiled, the statements are grouped into different classes based on their behavior and purpose.

Out of the given options, the class of statement that does not produce any executable code is called a declaration. A declaration statement is used to define the properties of a variable, constant, or function, but it does not perform any actual computation.

On the other hand, an assignment statement assigns a value to a variable, an I/O statement performs input/output operations, and a structural statement defines the structure of a program without executing any code. Therefore, the correct answer is declaration.


int x; // declaration statement
x = 5; // assignment statement
printf("Enter a number: "); // I/O statement
if(x > 0){ // structural statement 
   // do something

Understanding the Input of a Lexical Analyzer


In lexical analysis, the input to be analyzed is the source code. Source code refers to the original code written by programmers. The lexical analyzer reads the source code and produces a series of tokens, which are then passed to the next phase of the compiler. The tokens are the smallest units of meaning in a programming language, and they are used by the compiler to identify and understand the structure of the code. The lexical analyzer operates like a scanner and reads the source code character by character, identifying tokens and breaking the code down into meaningful pieces. Therefore, the correct answer to this question is: "The lexical analyzer takes source code as input."

What Does the Lexical Analyzer Output?

The lexical analyzer produces a list of tokens as output.

// Example code for generating a list of tokens
def generate_token_list(source_code):
    # code for parsing the source code and generating the list of tokens
    token_list = []
    # add tokens to the list as they are identified
    # return the final token list
    return token_list

Linear Analysis in Compiler

Linear analysis in compilers is also known as lexical analysis or scanning. It is a process that takes the source code as input and generates a sequence of tokens as output. These tokens are later used by the parser to identify the syntactic structure of the code. Hence, options (b) and (c) are both correct as they refer to the same process in a compiler.

// No code to optimize

Correct Definition of Lexical Analysis

Lexical analysis is the process in which a sequence of characters is broken down into tokens.


    function lexicalAnalysis(inputString) {
        // Code to break down sequence of characters into tokens

Modeling Phase Syntax Analysis

The phase syntax analysis is modeled on the basis of context-free grammar. This action involves parsing the source program into proper syntactic classes, which is also known as lexical analysis. The other options listed, such as high-level language, low-level language, and regular grammar, are not directly related to how the phase syntax analysis is modeled.

Role of Optimizing the Compiler in Code Optimization

Code optimization is crucial in software development to enhance the performance of the code. The role of the compiler in this process is to optimize the code. The optimization of the code can be achieved by optimizing the code to take less time for execution, optimize the code to occupy less space, or both.

The process of optimizing the compiler involves analyzing the code and making modifications to it to improve its performance. These modifications may include removing unnecessary code, reducing the number of instructions, or changing the order of instructions to improve the speed of execution.

In summary, the optimization of the compiler is essential in code optimization and enables the development of high-performing software systems.

Understanding Cross Compilers

A cross compiler is a type of compiler that compiles code on one machine or operating system and produces executable code for a different machine or operating system. It is a valuable tool in software development when targeting multiple platforms and architectures.

Out of the given compiler options, the correct answer to the question is option 3: Cross compiler.

Identifying a Graph for Basic Blocks

In computer programming, a Flowgraph is a graphical representation that shows the order in which basic blocks are executed in a program. It displays the flow of control between the basic blocks, with arrows representing the relationship between the blocks. The graph is also called a Control Flow Diagram or a Program Graph.

In contrast, a Direct Acyclic Graph is a directed graph that does not include any cycles. A Hamiltonian graph is a graph that includes a Hamiltonian cycle, while a Control Graph is not a standard term in computer science.

Understanding Lexical Analysis

Lexical analysis is the process of breaking down a source code into meaningful syntactic units known as tokens. This is the first phase of a compiler, and it involves tokenizing the input string.

public class LexicalAnalyzer {
   public Token analyze(String input) {
      // implementation of lexical analysis goes here...

The Code Synthesis Process

In the process of transforming source code into machine code, the synthesis part is responsible for producing the target code from the intermediate representation of the source code. This part is also known as the code generation phase. During this phase, the compiler generates the final code that the machine can read and execute.

The generated code should be optimized to run efficiently on the target platform. The code synthesis phase is preceded by the front-end and the analysis phase, which parse the source code and perform various checks and optimizations.

In summary, the synthesis part is a crucial step in the compilation process, in which the intermediate representation of the source code is converted into efficient machine code that can be executed by the target platform.

Method for Determining Token Generation from Grammar

Parsing is the method used to determine whether a given grammar can generate the tokens.

What parsing technique avoids backtracking?

The parsing techniques that avoid backtracking are predictive parsing and recursive descent parsing. These techniques are an example of top-down parsing, which starts at the root of the parse tree and works towards the leaves. Predictive parsing is usually implemented using a LL(1) parser, whereas recursive descent parsing uses a set of recursive procedures to parse the input. Both methods are efficient and easy to implement, making them popular choices in practice.

Context-Sensitive Grammar Recognition

In order to recognize a context-sensitive grammar, we need a machine that's more powerful than a finite state automaton or a push down automaton. The correct answer is a 2-way linear bounded automaton, which is capable of recognizing context-sensitive languages. Thus, the answer is option (b).

Identifying the Data Structure Based on Locality of Reference

In order to implement a symbol table, different data structures can be used. One of the structures that is based on the locality of reference is called a self-organizing list.

A self-organizing list is a type of data structure that reorders itself based on the frequency of its use. More commonly used elements are moved to the beginning of the list, making them easier and quicker to find when needed.

Other options for implementing a symbol table include linear lists, search trees, and hash tables, but they may not be optimized for the locality of reference in the same way as a self-organizing list.

Therefore, when designing a symbol table implementation, it is important to consider the type of data and the frequency of access in order to choose the best-suited data structure for the task.

Process of Searching for Match Tokens

The process of searching for match tokens is described using finite automata and regular expressions.

In computer science, finite automata are used for pattern matching and lexical analysis. They are mathematical models of machines that can recognize or accept languages or regular expressions. In programming, regular expressions are used to match and manipulate text based on patterns. Regular expressions are a concise and powerful way to describe patterns in text.

Context-free grammars, on the other hand, are used to generate languages or sets of strings. They are used in programming languages, compilers, and natural language processing.

Therefore, the correct answer is Both b and c.

// Sample code for matching tokens using regular expression
string pattern = @"\b\d{3}-\d{2}-\d{4}\b"; // pattern for matching social security numbers
string input = "My SSN is 123-45-6789";
if (Regex.IsMatch(input, pattern))
    Console.WriteLine("Found a match");
    Console.WriteLine("No match found");

When to Use an Interpreter Instead of a Compiler

An interpreter is preferred over a compiler during the development stage of software because it allows for rapid feedback and testing. Compiler can take more time to generate the final executable code, which delays the testing and debugging process.

Additionally, an interpreter may be preferred when efficiency is not the main concern, such as when rapidly prototyping or developing small scripts. An interpreter can also be used when resources like memory need to be conserved as it only loads one statement at a time into memory.

Therefore, the correct answer is: During the development phase.

Identifying Tokens with a Scanner

In computer programming, a scanner is used to break down a program into tokens. Tokens are small units of code that serve as the building blocks of larger programs. A scanner is a key component of the lexical analysis phase in compiling code.

Therefore, the correct answer to the question is: Scanner.

When is Type Checking Performed?

Type checking is performed during syntax analysis or syntax-directed translation, where the types of expressions or variables are checked to ensure that they are consistent with the defined data types in a program. This helps to prevent errors during the execution of the program and ensures that the program behaves as expected.

Identifying Sequence of Characters in a Token

In the field of computer science, the sequence of characters inside a token is called a lexeme.


LR Parsing Explained

LR stands for Left to Right parsing using a Rightmost derivation in reverse. It is a type of bottom-up parsing algorithm that is commonly used in the field of computer science to parse a given input.

In LR parsing, we read the input string from left to right while constructing a rightmost derivation in reverse. The basic idea is to reduce a sequence of input symbols to a non-terminal symbol by repeatedly applying productions in the reverse order until the start symbol is reached.

This process is called bottom-up since we start with the input string and build up a parse tree until we reach the root. The LR parser uses a stack to keep track of the current state and a parsing table to determine which action to take based on the current state and input symbol.

There are different variants of LR parsers such as LR(0), SLR(1), LR(1), LALR(1), etc. Each variant has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of efficiency, simplicity, and power. The choice of the variant depends on the complexity of the grammar and the size of the input.

Class of Recursive Descent Parsing

The recursive descent parsing belongs to the class of top-down parsing. It is a type of parsing technique that starts from the top of the parse tree and works its way down to the leaf nodes. The parser predicts the next rule to use based on the current input symbol, trying different alternatives until a match is found. It then recursively parses the sub-trees until the input is completely parsed. This technique is widely used in programming languages and compilers.

Reasons for using Minimum Hamming Distance Method

The Minimum Hamming Distance method is used for the correction of syntactic errors in the input data. It is not used for the correction of transcription errors, semantic errors, or algorithm errors.

In coding theory, the Hamming distance between two binary strings of equal length is defined as the number of positions at which the corresponding bits are different. The Minimum Hamming Distance is then the smallest possible Hamming distance between any two distinct strings in a set of strings. It is often used in error detection and correction codes, such as the Hamming code and the Reed-Solomon code. By choosing codes with a large minimum Hamming distance, we can correct multiple errors in the transmission or storage of data.

Therefore, the minimum Hamming distance method is an important tool for ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data communication.

Which Types of Errors Can a Compiler Check?

A compiler can only check for syntax errors in code.

//example of syntax error
int a = 5
cout << a;

In the above code, the semicolon is missing at the end of the first line, which is a syntax error. A compiler can catch this error and report it to the programmer. However, a logic error or a runtime error can only be identified during the execution of the program.


The symbol table is a data structure used by compilers and interpreters to store information about the program's identifiers (such as variable names, function names, class names, etc.). It is used for:

  • Suppressing duplication of error messages: Whenever there is an error related to an identifier (such as using an undeclared variable), the compiler or interpreter can look up the symbol table to see if the identifier has been previously declared. If it has not, the compiler or interpreter can generate an error message. By using a symbol table, the compiler or interpreter can avoid generating multiple error messages for the same identifier.
  • Storage allocation: The symbol table is used to keep track of the memory locations assigned to variables, constants, and other program entities.
  • Checking type compatibility: The symbol table stores information about the type of each identifier, such as whether it is an integer, floating-point number, string, etc. This information is used by the compiler or interpreter to check if the program is using each identifier correctly.

Therefore, the correct answer is all of the above.

// No code provided for this explanation.

Identifying Language Processors

In the field of computer programming, there are several types of language processors used to translate high-level programming code into machine code that a computer can execute. The following are the most common types:

  • Assembler
  • Compilers
  • Interpreters

All of the above are considered language processors because they translate code from one language to another. Assembly language is translated by an assembler into machine code, high-level languages are translated by compilers into machine code, and interpreted languages are translated by interpreters into machine code.

Reasons for Using Handle Pruning

Handle pruning is a technique utilized to achieve a canonical reduction sequence.

When Can Semantic Errors be Detected?

Semantic errors can be detected both during the runtime of the program and during the compilation process. It is important to fix any semantic errors in the code to ensure that the program runs smoothly and produces the expected output.

Correct Phase of the Compiler

All of the above are phases of the compiler. These are separate stages in the compilation process that convert source code written in programming languages into executable files or machine code. The lexical analyzer reads the source code and converts it into a series of tokens. The syntax analyzer then examines the tokens and determines if they form grammatical sentences. Finally, the code generator converts the parsed code into object or executable code.


// This code represents the different phases of the compiler.

// Lexical analyzer phase - reads source code and creates series of tokens
function lexicalAnalyzer(sourceCode) {
  const tokens = [];
  // code to tokenize sourceCode goes here
  return tokens;

// Syntax analyzer phase - examines tokens and determines if they form grammatical sentences
function syntaxAnalyzer(tokens) {
  let isSyntaxValid = true;
  // code to validate syntax of tokens goes here
  return isSyntaxValid;

// Code generation phase - converts parsed code into object or executable code
function codeGenerator(parsedCode) {
  let executableCode = '';
  // code to generate executable code goes here
  return executableCode;

In which language does the compiler translate source code?

The compiler translates source code into binary and machine code.

The Compiler Phase for Checking Grammar

In the syntax analysis phase of the compiler, the grammar is checked. This is the first phase of the compiler after lexical analysis. The goal of this phase is to ensure that the code fits the rules of the programming language's grammar. If the code contains any syntax errors, the compiler generates error messages, and the compilation process fails. The following phases of the compiler can't be executed if the code has syntax errors. Hence, it is important to ensure that the syntax of the code is correct before compiling it.

What is the Role of Semantic Analysis?

Semantic analysis is responsible for static checking, type checking, and checking semantics, which makes the correct answer "All of the above".

// No code provided for this question

Identifying an Interpreted Language

In the given options, Java and Visual Basic are the interpreted languages. C++ is a compiled language, which means it needs to be compiled before executing.

An interpreted language, on the other hand, can execute on-the-fly, without the need for a compilation step. This makes the development process faster as you only need to write the code, and it can be executed almost immediately.

In conclusion, if you want to code faster, you should consider using an interpreted language like Java or Visual Basic.

Process of Finding a Parse Tree for a String of Tokens

The process of finding a parse tree for a string of tokens is called Parsing. Parsing involves analyzing the sequence of tokens produced by the tokenizer, and determining their syntactic structure according to the grammar of the language. The resulting parse tree represents the syntactic structure of the input and is used by the compiler to generate the corresponding output.

// Example of Parsing in Python

# Define the parse function  
def parse(tokens):  
    # ...  
    # Logic for parsing the tokens  
    # ...  
    return parse_tree  

# Call the parse function with a sequence of tokens  
tokens = get_tokens()  
parse_tree = parse(tokens)

Programming Language Used by Users

In which programming language do users generally write their programs?

  • High-level language
  • Low-level language
  • Assembly language
  • Decimal format

Answer: Users typically write programs in a high-level language.

Explanation: High-level programming languages such as Java, Python, C++, and Ruby, are easier to use and more user-friendly as compared to low-level programming languages like machine language. Assembly languages are also considered low-level languages, and decimal format is not a programming language.


The statement is true. Ambiguous grammar can result in multiple parse trees for a single sentence, which can make the language difficult to understand and parse.

Understanding Assembler Output

When a program is written in assembly language, it needs to be translated into machine code that the computer can execute. This is where the assembler comes in. The assembler takes the assembly code and converts it into object code, which is essentially machine code with relocation information.

The output of the assembler is the object file, which contains the object code. This file can then be further processed by the linker, which resolves any unresolved symbols and produces the final executable or library file.

In summary, the correct answer is: Object file.

// Sample code to illustrate the use of assembler
section .data
    msg db "Hello, world!"
section .text
    global _start
    ; write the message to stdout
    mov edx, len
    mov ecx, msg
    mov ebx, 1
    mov eax, 4
    int 0x80
    ; exit program with status code 0
    mov eax, 1
    xor ebx, ebx
    int 0x80
section .data
    len equ $ - msg

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