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bootstrap

1. <operating system> (From "to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps") To load and initialise the operating system on a computer. Normally abbreviated to "boot".

See bootstrap loader.

2. <compiler> (From "to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps") to use a compiler to compile itself.

The usual process is to write an interpreter for a language, L, in an existing language, M. The compiler is then written in L and the interpreter is used to run it. This produces an executable for compiling programs in L from the source of the compiler in L.

This technique is often used to verify the correctness of a compiler. It was first used in the LISP community.

See also my favourite toy language.

(27 November 1995)


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