attribute grammar

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attribute grammar A context-free grammar that has been augmented with attribute evaluation rules or conditions enabling non-context-free aspects of a language to be specified. Associated with each symbol of the grammar is a finite set of attributes or conditions. Rules for evaluating the attributes are associated with the productions of the grammar. Using these rules the attributes of each node in a parse tree may be evaluated. The attributes may either be inherited, meaning that their values are a function of the attribute of their parent node in the parse tree, or synthesized, meaning that their values are a function of the attributes of their children in the parse tree.

The concept of an attribute grammar was introduced by D. E. Knuth who suggested that the semantics of a program could be specified by the attributes of the root node in its parse tree.