Chapter 3
Syntax and Basic Parsing

This chapter introduces the basic syntactic ingredients of all Maude specifications: identifiers, module names, sort names, and operator declarations. Other syntactic parts of Maude specifications, like equations and rules, will appear in the following chapters.

Some syntax is presented in an informal way by means of general schemes; a formal BNF grammar of the language can be found in Chapter A.16.

The chapter finishes explaining some features that can be used to reduce parsing ambiguities in the user-definable syntax, including mixfix operator declarations, supported by Maude.

3.1 Identifiers

In Maude, identifiers are the basic syntactic elements, used to name modules and sorts, and to form operator names. For example, NAT, Nat, and hello-world are identifiers. In general, an identifier in Maude is any finite sequence of ASCII characters such that:

Nonprinting characters in strings use C backslash conventions [77, Section A2.5.2].

3.2 Modules

In Maude the basic units of specification and programming are called modules.1 A module consists of syntax declarations, providing appropriate language to describe the system at hand, and of statements, asserting the properties of such a system. The syntax declaration part is called a signature and consists of declarations for:

We use symbols Σ , Σ , etc. to denote signatures.

In Maude there are two kinds of modules: functional modules and system modules. Signatures are common for both of them. The difference between functional and system modules resides in the statements they can have:

We use E , E , etc. to denote sets of equations and memberships, and R , R , etc. to denote sets of rules.

From a programming point of view, a functional module is an equational-style functional program with user-definable syntax in which a number of sorts, their elements, and functions on those sorts are defined. From a specification viewpoint, a functional module is an equational theory ( Σ , E ) with initial algebra semantics. Functional modules are described in detail in Chapter 4, here we just discuss some of their top-level syntax. Each functional module has a name, which is a Maude identifier. Any Maude identifier can be used, but the preferred style for module names is an all capitalized identifier, and in the case of a compound name the different parts are linked with hyphens. For example, a module defining numbers and operations on them can be called NUMBERS. The top-level syntax will then be

fmod NUMBERS is 

with ‘ ’ corresponding to all the declarations of submodule importations, sorts, subsorts, operators, variables, equations, and so on.

From a programming point of view, a system module is a declarative-style concurrent program with user-definable syntax. From a specification viewpoint, it is a rewrite theory ( Σ , E , ϕ , R ) (where ϕ specifies the frozen arguments of operators in Σ ; see Section 4.4.9) with initial model semantics. Again, each system module has a name, which is a Maude identifier. And as for functional modules, the preferred style is an all capitalized name, with consecutive parts linked with hyphens in the case of compound names. For example, a module specifying the behavior of a vending machine may be called VENDING-MACHINE. It will then be introduced with the following top-level syntax:


where again ‘ ’ corresponds to all the declarations of submodule importations, sorts, subsorts, operators, variables, equations, rules, and so on. System modules are described in detail in Chapter 5.

In the rest of the chapter we will describe the ingredients of signatures, that is, the syntactic elements common to both functional and system modules, such as sorts, subsorts, kinds, operators, variables, and the terms that can be built on a signature, postponing the discussion about the syntax specific to functional and system modules to Chapters 4 and 5, respectively.

3.3 Sorts and subsorts

The first thing a specification needs to declare are the types (that in the algebraic specification community are usually called sorts) of the data being defined and the corresponding operations. Sorts can be partially ordered via a subsort relation.

A sort is declared using the sort keyword followed by an identifier (the sort name), followed by white space and a period, as follows:




and multiple sorts may be declared using the sorts keyword, as follows:






The period at the end of the sort declaration, as for the other types of declarations, is crucial. Note that if either the period is missing or no space is left before and after the period, there can be parsing problems or unintended behavior. For example, the following declaration is syntactically correct but causes an unintended interpretation because of a missing ‘.’, since this way sorts A, B, sort, and C are declared.

sorts A B 
sort C .

Note also that the keywords sort and sorts are synonyms. One may use sort for multiple sort declarations and sorts for single ones, although we do not encourage this style.

For example, we can declare sorts Zero, NzNat, and Nat in the NUMBERS module, either one at a time

sort Zero . 
sort NzNat . 
sort Nat .

or all at once

sorts Zero Nat NzNat .

The identifiers <, ->, and ~> cannot be used as sort names. Moreover, identifiers used for sorts cannot contain any of the characters ‘:’, ‘.’, ‘[’, or ‘]’. The reasons for these restrictions will become clear below in this section and in Sections 3.4, 3.5, and 17.2.1. The use of ‘{’, ‘}’, and ‘,’ is only allowed in structured sort names (see below). Although any so restricted identifier is a legal sort name, the preferred style is to capitalize the first letter of the name. Furthermore, in the case of a compound name, such as a sort of nonzero naturals, the names (each with the first letter capitalized) or suitable abbreviations will be juxtaposed without spaces or hyphens, like, for example, NzNat.

A sort name can also be structured. Structured sort names are used in parameterized modules; for example, we may use List{X} for a parameterized list sort with parameter X and List{Nat} for its instantiation to lists of natural numbers (see Section 7.4.3). A structured sort name contains at least one pair of curly brace symbols ‘{’ and ‘}’, and is constructed according to the following BNF grammar, without any white space between terminals:



















Notice that structured sorts are allowed to contain ‘{’, ‘,’ and ‘}’ but only in accordance with the above grammar. Thus all the following are structured sort names:

a{X, Y} 
a{b, c{d}}{e} 

while the following are not legal sort names:

  {X} (lacks sort identifier prefix)
  a(X, Y) (‘,’ not inside braces)
  a{b, {d}}{e} ({d} lacks sort identifier prefix)
  a({) (‘{’ without closing ‘}’)

Structured sort names can be written in an equivalent single-identifier form by using backquotes. For example, the sort a{b, c{d}}{e} may be written as a‘{b‘,c‘{d‘}‘}‘{e‘}. Hybrid notation such as in a{b‘,c} is not allowed. When backquotes are omitted, the sort name becomes a sequence of tokens according to Maude’s usual tokenization rules and arbitrary white space may be inserted between tokens. For example, Foo‘{X‘,Y‘}, Foo{X,Y}, and Foo{X, Y} are three equivalent forms for the same structured sort name.

Structured sort names must be written in their equivalent single-identifier form inside operator hooks (see Chapter 8) or in metasyntax (see Chapter 17).

Apart from their special syntax and their use as parameterized sorts in parameterized modules (see Section 7.4.3), structured sort names behave just like sort identifiers.

The subsort relation on sorts parallels the subset relation on the sets of elements in the intended model of these sorts. Subsort inclusions are declared using the keyword subsort. The declaration






states that the first sort is a subsort of the second. For example, the declarations

subsort Zero < Nat . 
subsort NzNat < Nat .

specify that the sorts Zero (containing only the constant 0) and NzNat (the nonzero natural numbers) are subsorts of Nat, the natural numbers. More than one subsort relationship can be declared using the keyword subsorts, as follows:





 < ... < 





Then, the above declarations can be given in a single declaration as follows:

subsorts Zero NzNat < Nat .

If we extend NUMBERS with sorts Int and NzInt we can express the additional subsort relationships compactly by

sorts NzInt Int . 
subsorts NzNat < NzInt Nat < Int .

A set of subsort declarations must define a partial order among the set of sorts. For this to be true, the user is required to avoid cycles in the subsort declarations. For example, if a sort A is declared as a subsort of B, and B is declared as a subsort of A, we would have a cycle.

Note that the partial order of subsort inclusions partitions the set of sorts into connected components, that is, into sets of sorts that are directly or indirectly related in the subsort ordering. For example, all the above sorts Zero, Nat, NzNat, NzInt, and Int belong to the same connected component in the subsort ordering, whereas a sort Bool would clearly belong to a different connected component and could have other sorts, for example a supersort Prop of propositions, related to it in the same component. Intuitively, connected components gather together related sorts of data such as numerical data, truth-value data, and so on. Graphically, we can visualize the partial order of subsort inclusions as an acyclic graph (the corresponding Hasse diagram), and then the connected components are exactly those of the underlying graph, as in the following example:


3.4 Operator declarations

In a Maude module, an operator is declared with the keyword op followed by its name, followed by a colon, followed by the list of sorts for its arguments (called the operator’s arity or domain sorts), followed by ->, followed by the sort of its result (called the operator’s coarity or range sort), optionally followed by an attribute declaration (the discussion of operator attributes is postponed to Section 4.4), followed by white space and a period. Thus the general scheme has the form











] .

Here are some operator declarations for our NUMBERS module.

op zero : -> Zero . 
op s_ : Nat -> NzNat . 
op sd : Nat Nat -> Nat . 
ops _+_ _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat .

If the argument list is empty, the operator is called a constant. Thus zero is a constant.

The name of the operator is a string of characters that may consist of several identifiers, due to the presence of blanks or other special characters. Underscores (_) play a special role in these strings. If no underscore character occurs in the operator string—as in the case of the operator sd above—then the operator is declared in prefix form. If underscore characters occur in the string, then their number must coincide with the number of sorts declared as arguments of the operator (in particular, constant names cannot include any underscore character). The operator is then in mixfix form, with the n -th underscore indicating the place where arguments of the n -th sort must be placed in expressions formed with that operator. In the above example the operators s_, _+_, and _*_ are in mixfix form.

There may or may not be any other characters before or after any of the underbars. If no other characters appear, we say that the operator has been declared with empty syntax. For example, we could declare a sort NatSeq of sequences of natural numbers formed with empty syntax as follows:

sort NatSeq . 
subsort Nat < NatSeq . 
op __ : NatSeq NatSeq -> NatSeq [assoc] .

where assoc is an attribute declaring that sequence concatenation is associative (see Section 4.4.1). With this operator declaration we can write number sequences such as

zero (s zero) (s s zero)

Operators having the same arity and coarity can be declared simultaneously by using the keyword ops and giving the non-empty list of their corresponding names after the ops keyword and before the :, as is done for the declarations of _+_ and _*_ in the example above.

An operator can also be declared using several identifiers. This can be due to the presence of special characters, or to blank spaces, or both. Consider for example the operator declaration

op [_] and then [_] : Command Command -> Command .

that may allow a natural language style in the syntax of a programming language. It uses eight identifiers in the Maude sense, but declares a single binary operator, with the underscores indicating the place of the arguments in the mixfix notation. Internally, Maude also associates to this operator a corresponding single-identifier form by using backquotes. We could have equivalently defined the operator using the single-identifier form, namely,

op ‘[_‘]andthen‘[_‘] : Command Command -> Command .

Of course, both variants are equivalent and have the same mixfix display, but the version without backquotes is obviously more convenient.2

The declaration of an operator requires an extra pair of parentheses if we already use parentheses as part of the syntax of the operator. Suppose we had in a programming language a binary operator (_ only after _). Then, we have to declare it as follows:

op ((_ only after _)) : Command Command -> Command .

Since an operator may be declared using several identifiers, in an ops declaration involving several operators each operator declaration can be enclosed in parentheses if necessary, to indicate where the syntax of each operator begins and ends. We could have declared both operators together, as follows:

ops ([_] and then [_]) ((_ only after _)) : 
 Command Command -> Command .

Thus, one or several Maude identifiers can be used in operator declarations. Regarding style, the preferred one, particularly for single-identifier operators with prefix syntax, is to use lower case names. However, for a composed name such as a meta parse operator, the subsequent names will be juxtaposed and will typically begin with a capital letter to enhance readability, e.g., metaParse.

Constants may be given the pconst attribute to mark them as parameter constants (see Section 7.4.1). Like sorts, they can also be given structured names in parameterized modules (see Section 7.4.3).

3.5 Kinds

The equational logic underlying Maude is membership equational logic [9514]. In this logic sorts are grouped into equivalence classes called kinds. For this purpose, two sorts are grouped together in the same equivalence class if and only if they belong to the same connected component. Maude sorts are user-defined, while kinds are implicitly associated with connected components of sorts and are considered as “error supersorts.” Terms (see Section 3.8) that have a kind but not a sort are understood as undefined or error terms.

In Maude modules, kinds are not independently and explicitly named. Instead, a kind is identified with its equivalence class of sorts and can be named by enclosing the name of one or more of these sorts in square brackets [...]; when using more than one sort, they are separated by commas.

For example, suppose we add a partial predecessor function to our NUMBERS module,

op p : NzNat -> Nat .

Then Maude will parse the term p(zero) and assign it the kind [Nat], or equivalently [NatSeq] or also [Nat, NatSeq], since the sorts Nat and NatSeq belong to the same connected component. Although any sort, or list of sorts in the connected component, can be enclosed in brackets to denote the corresponding kind, Maude uses a canonical representation for kinds; specifically, Maude prints the kind using a comma-separated list of the maximal elements of the connected component.

The Maude system also lifts automatically to kinds all the operators involving sorts of the corresponding connected components to form error expressions. Such error expressions allow us to give expressions to be evaluated the benefit of the doubt: if, when they are simplified, they have a legal sort, then they are okay; otherwise, the fully simplified error expression is returned, which the user can interpret as an error message. Equational simplification can also occur at the kind level, so that operators can map error terms to defined terms, which may be useful for error recovery.

It is also possible to explicitly declare operators at the kind level. This corresponds to declaring a partial operation, which is defined for those argument values for which Maude can determine that the resulting term has a sort. Note that the operation is considered to be total at the kind level. As an example, consider the following fragment of a graph specification:

sorts Node Edge . 
ops source target : Edge -> Node . 
sort Path . 
subsort Edge < Path . 
op _;_ : [Path] [Path] -> [Path] .

The sorts Node and Edge, along with the source and target operators mapping edges to nodes, axiomatize the basic graph concepts. The sort Path is intended to be the paths through the graph, sequences of edges with the target of one edge being the source of the next edge. Edges are singleton paths, and _;_ denotes the partial concatenation operation, indicated by giving kinds rather than sorts in the argument list. Later, in Section 4.3, we will see how to specify when a sequence of edges has sort Path.

To emphasize the fact that an operator defined at the kind level in general defines only a partial function at the sort level, Maude also supports a notational variant in which an (always total) operator at the kind level can equivalently be defined as a partial operator between sorts in the corresponding kinds, with syntax ‘~>’ instead of ‘->’ to indicate partiality. For example, the above operator declaration can be equivalently specified by

op _;_ : Path Path ~> Path .

More generally, the partial operator declaration










is equivalent to the total operator declaration at the kind level



 : [


] ... [


] -> [


] .

3.6 Operator overloading

Operators in Maude can be overloaded, that is, we can have several operator declarations for the same operator with different arities and coarities. Consider extending our number module with a new sort Nat3 (of natural numbers modulo 3), constants 0, 1, and 2 of sort Nat3, and two further operator declarations for _+_.

op _+_ : NzNat Nat -> NzNat . 
sort Nat3 . 
ops 0 1 2 : -> Nat3 . 
op _+_ : Nat3 Nat3 -> Nat3 .

Now _+_ is overloaded, having three declarations. However, there are two different kinds of overloading present in the example. The additional declaration of _+_ with first argument NzNat is an example of subsort overloading. Here the two _+_ operators on Nat and NzNat are supposed to have the same behavior on their shared argument values, that is, the operator on the subsort NzNat is the restriction of the operator on the larger sort Nat. The main point of such declarations is to give more sort information, for example that the result of adding a nonzero natural number to any natural number is nonzero. Many more examples of this form of overloading can be found in the predefined data modules for the number hierarchy (Chapter 8) and in other modules throughout the manual.

In contrast, the sorts Nat and NzNat on the one hand, and the sort Nat3 on the other belong to two different connected components in the subsort ordering and therefore natural number addition and addition modulo 3 are semantically unrelated. This form of overloading is called ad-hoc overloading. Both subsort and ad-hoc overloading of operators are allowed in Maude. However, to avoid ambiguous expressions we require that if the sorts in the arities of two operators with the same syntactic form are pairwise in the same connected components, then the sorts in the coarities must likewise be in the same connected component.

Strictly speaking, this requirement would rule out ad-hoc overloaded constants. For this reason, we have declared two different constants zero and 0 for the corresponding zero elements. However, this requirement can be relaxed, and it is often natural to do so. For example, the constants of a parameterized module (see Chapter 7.4) can appear in many different connected components for different instances of the module, and it may be cumbersome to rename them all. To allow this relaxation, constants—and, more generally, terms (see Section 3.8)—can be qualified by their sort, by enclosing them in parentheses followed by a dot and the sort name. In this way, we could have instead declared 0 as an ad-hoc overloaded constant for natural numbers and for natural numbers modulo 3, and could then disambiguate the expression 0 + 0 by writing, for example, 0 + (0).Nat and 0 + (0).Nat3, or (0 + 0).Nat and (0 + 0).Nat3.

3.7 Variables

A variable is constrained to range over a particular sort or kind. Variables can be declared on-the-fly in Maude with syntax consisting of an identifier (the variable name), a colon, and another identifier (its sort) or kind expression (its kind). For example, N:Nat declares a variable named N of sort Nat, and X:[Nat] declares a variable named X of kind [Nat].

The scope of an on-the-fly variable declaration is the declaration’s occurrence. Thus each such variable must be accompanied by its sort or kind.

A variable can also be declared in a module using the keyword var followed by an identifier (the variable name), followed by a colon with white space before and after, followed by an identifier (its sort) or kind expression (its kind), followed by white space and a period.

var N : Nat . 
var X : [Nat] .

The scope of such a declaration is the entire module. It has the effect of replacing occurrences of N and X by the on-the-fly versions N:Nat and X:[Nat].

Multiple variables of the same sort can be declared using the keyword vars.

vars M N : Nat . 
vars X Y : [Nat] .

Both upper and lower case names for variables are possible. However, upper case variable names are more customary in Maude. The syntactic conventions for the acceptable names of variables in variable declarations are the same as those for constant operators, that is, for operators with empty arity. In particular, the underscore ‘_’ cannot be used in the name of a variable, but the colon ‘:’ can; thus the scanning for ‘:’ in order to extract the appropriate sort or kind from an on-the-fly variable declaration is done from right to left.

3.8 Terms and preregularity

A term is either a constant, a variable, or the application of an operator to a list of argument terms. The sort of a constant or variable is its declared sort. In the application of an operator, the argument list must agree with the declared arity of the operator. That is, it must be of the same length, and each term must have sort (or at least kind) in the connected component of the corresponding declared argument sort. Using prefix form—which can always be used for any operator, regardless of having been declared with either prefix or mixfix syntax—the syntax of operator application is the operator’s name followed by ‘(’, followed by a list of argument terms separated by commas, followed by ‘)’. Here are some examples of prefix notation from our numbers module.

s_(sd(N:Nat, M:Nat)) 
_+_(N:Nat, M:Nat)

The application of an operator declared with mixfix form also has a mixfix syntax: the operator’s mixfix name with each underscore replaced by the corresponding term from the argument list. The mixfix form of the above examples is

s zero 
s sd(N:Nat, M:Nat) 
p(s zero) 
N:Nat + M:Nat

The kind of a term is the result kind of its topmost operator. For example, the kind of p(s zero) is [Nat], since Nat is the result sort of p. If a module’s grammar is unambiguous (see the discussion on parsing in the following section), then each term has a single kind. But we can also associate sorts to terms. In general, even if the grammar is unambiguous, a term may have several sorts, due to the subsort ordering. Specifically, constants have the sort they are declared with and any supersort of it. Given a term of the form f ( t 1 , , t n ) , if t i has sort s i for i = 1 , , n and there is an operator declaration f : s 1 s n s , then the term f ( t 1 , , t n ) has sort s and any of its supersorts. For example, in our example NUMBERS module the term s s 0 has sorts NzNat and Nat.

A very desirable property of a module is that each term has a least sort that can be assigned to it. Such a least sort gives us the most detailed information on how to classify such a term as a data element. For example, the least sort of the term s s 0 is NzNat, and this gives us the most precise classification of such a term in the sort hierarchy. Given an arbitrary signature Σ , we can have terms that fail to have a least sort. However, if Σ satisfies a simple syntactic property called preregularity [68], we can guarantee that any Σ -term will have a least sort. We call Σ preregular if for each n , given an n -argument function symbol f and sorts s 1 , , s n such that f ( x 1 : s 1 , , x n : s n ) is a well-formed Σ -term, then there is a least sort s among all the sorts s appearing in (possibly overloaded) operator declarations of the form f : s 1 , , s n s in Σ such that for 1 i n we have s i s i . For example, the signature

sorts A B C D . 
subsorts A < B C < D . 
op a : -> A . 
op f : B -> B . 
op f : C -> C .

fails to be preregular, because for the sort A the term f(X:A) is a well-formed term, but there is no least sort for the result of f with arguments greater or equal to A, since either B or C can be chosen as result sorts, and they are incomparable in the sort hierarchy. As a consequence, both f(X:A) and f(a) do not have a least sort: they have sorts B, C, and D, and B and C are minimal sorts among those sorts.

As already mentioned in Section 3.4 for the assoc attribute and further explained in Section 4.4.1, operators can be declared with equational axioms such as associativity (assoc), commutativity (comm), and identity (id:). This means that, if we denote by A the corresponding associativity and/or commutativity, and/or identity equations, we are not really interested in syntactic terms t , but rather in equivalence classes modulo A , that is, in the equivalence class [ t ] A of each term t , since all representatives of the class are viewed as equivalent representations. Preregularity modulo A now means that we can assign a least sort not just to any well-formed term t , but also to its equivalence class [ t ] A . As further explained in Section 20.3.5, Maude assumes that modules are preregular modulo whatever axioms such as assoc, comm, and id: have been declared for operators, checks syntactic conditions ensuring preregularity modulo A , and generates warnings when a module fails to satisfy such preregularity conditions.

A ground term is a term containing no variables: only constants and operators. Intuitively, ground terms denote either data in case no equations apply to the term (for example, s zero is data) or functional expressions indicating how an equationally defined function is applied to data (for example, (s zero) + (s zero)). Ground terms modulo equations constitute the initial algebra associated with a specification, as discussed later in Section 4.3.

3.9 Parsing

As seen in previous sections, the Maude language supports user-definable syntax including mixfix operator declarations. Parsing is done in stages. First Maude’s surface syntax is parsed using a bison/flex-based parser. Operator declarations are extracted and are used to construct a grammar for language constructs that can contain terms. Finally those constructs are parsed using a version of Leo’s algorithm for context-free grammars [80], which has been extended to handle Maude-specific features including the precedence-gather mechanism and bubbles.

With mixfix syntax, the occurrence of ambiguities in the parsing of terms is very common. Of course, we can always provide unambiguous grammars, which are frequently surprisingly large, or use parentheses for breaking the possible ambiguities. But usually we would like to have a more powerful alternative. Maude reduces such ambiguities by using a mechanism based on precedence values and gathering patterns.

Let us assume the following declarations for some arithmetic expressions:

sort Nat . 
ops 1 2 3 : -> Nat . 
ops _+_ _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat .

An expression like 1 + 2 * 3 is ambiguous, since both (1 + 2) * 3 and 1 + (2 * 3) are valid parses. This kind of ambiguity is usually solved by assigning a precedence to each of the operators. In Maude, the precedence of an operator is given by a natural number,3 where a lower value indicates a tighter binding.

Operator precedence then defines how an expression should be parsed when several operators are present. We can assign a precedence to an operator with a precedence (abbreviated prec) attribute, which takes the precedence value as an argument. For example, one would expect multiplication to be evaluated before addition. Thus, we can give precedences, e.g., 3 3 and 3 1 to the operators _+_ and _*_, respectively, as follows:

op _+_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 33] . 
op _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 31] .

The term 1 + 2 * 3 is now unambiguous: its only possible parse is 1 + (2 * 3).

Precedence can be overridden using parentheses; we can always write (1 + 2) * 3 in case this is the term we are interested in. For those operators for which the user does not specify a precedence value, a default one is given (see Section 3.9.1 for a discussion on the default precedence values). For example, both operators _+_ and _*_ above get 4 1 as their default precedence, and hence the ambiguity.

The precedence mechanism is not enough, however. For example, the expression 1 + 2 + 3 is still ambiguous, because both parses (1 + 2) + 3 and 1 + (2 + 3) are possible. Usually, programming languages define a way of associating operators to solve this kind of problems, so that the associativity of the operators determines which is evaluated first. For example, addition usually is left-associative, and therefore we expect to parse it as (1 + 2) + 3. In Maude, we can specify not only the associativity of operators, but general gathering patterns for each operator.

The gathering pattern of an operator restricts the precedences of terms that are allowed as arguments. We give a (non-empty) sequence of as many E, e, or & values as the number of arguments in the operator, that is, one of these values for each argument position:

In fact, the precedence values work because of their combination with the gathering patterns. For example, the precedence values given to _+_ and _*_ work as expected because their default gathering pattern is (E E) (see Section 3.9.2), which forces them to be applied only to terms of smaller or equal precedence value. Thus, 1 + (2 * 3) is a valid parse for 1 + 2 * 3. On the other hand, since the precedence of a term is given by the precedence of its top operator, (1 + 2) * 3 is not a valid parse for 1 + 2 * 3, because the term 1 + 2 has precedence value 33, which is greater than the precedence of _*_.

Moreover, by default, all constants have precedence 0 (see Section 3.9.1), and therefore they are also valid arguments for both operators.

We can specify _+_ and _*_ as left-associative by giving to them gathering pattern (E e).

op _+_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 33 gather (E e)] . 
op _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 31 gather (E e)] .

In this way, we force the second argument of these operators to be of a strictly lower precedence. Then, a term with _+_ as top operator (or any other operator with the same precedence) like 2 + 3 is nonvalid as second argument for _+_. But it would be valid as first argument, since terms with equal precedence are allowed. Now the only possible parse for the expression 1 + 2 + 3 is (1 + 2) + 3.

Note that parentheses could be described as an operator (_) with precedence 0 and gathering pattern (&). Thus, any term can appear inside parentheses, and any subterm of a term can be enclosed in parentheses.

3.9.1 Default precedence values

Maude associates default precedence values to those operators for which the user does not specify this information as part of the operator declaration. The default precedence values are entirely similar to those used by OBJ3 [69]. The rules for the assignment of default precedence values are:

3.9.2 Default gathering patterns

As for precedence values, Maude assigns default gathering patterns to all those operators for which the user does not specify this information as part of the operator declaration. The default gathering patterns are also entirely similar to those used by OBJ3 [69]. The rules for the assignment of the default gathering patterns are:

3.9.3 The extended signature of a module

In addition to the signature defined by the user, parsing of terms takes place in an extended grammar in which information for handling parentheses, sort and equality predicates, if_then_else_fi, and qualification operators are included. These structures belong to the so-called extended signature of a module. The main structures added in the extended signature of a module are:

3.9.4 Parsing examples

Maude provides the parse command for parsing terms. The command does not do anything other than parsing the given term in the extended signature of the module. This is exactly what is done when a term appears in a command, before executing such a command. For example, when we try to reduce a term (2 + 3) * 5, the system first parses it and then reduces it. If the term is ambiguous, or there is no parse for it, an error message is given and no further action takes place.

Maude> reduce in NAT : 2 + true . 
Warning: <standard input>, line 1: 
 didnt expect token true: 2 + true <---*HERE* 
Warning: <standard input>, line 1: no parse for term.

For testing the parsing of terms we can use the parse command.

Maude> parse in NAT : 2 + true . 
Warning: <standard input>, line 1: 
 didnt expect token true: 2 + true <---*HERE* 
Warning: <standard input>, line 1: no parse for term.

As other commands, parsing can take place either in the module explicitly mentioned in the command or in the current module.

We illustrate the use of the parse command for the examples introduced in the previous sections. Let us first consider a module PARSING-EX1 with constants 1, 2, and 3, and binary operators _+_ and _*_.

fmod PARSING-EX1 is 
 sort Nat . 
 ops 1 2 3 : -> Nat . 
 ops _+_ _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat . 

Since _+_ and _*_ are declared without precedence values, and therefore both get the default value 41, we obtain the following result.

Maude> parse 1 + 2 * 3 . 
Warning: <standard input>, line 13: ambiguous term, two parses are: 
1 + (2 * 3) -versus- (1 + 2) * 3 
Arbitrarily taking the first as correct. Nat: 1 + (2 * 3)

As a first solution, we may consider using parentheses.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : 1 + (2 * 3) . 
Nat: 1 + (2 * 3)

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : (1 + 2) * 3 . 
Nat: (1 + 2) * 3

Let us now consider the module PARSING-EX2, where _+_ and _*_ are declared with precedences 33 and 31, respectively.

fmod PARSING-EX2 is 
 sort Nat . 
 ops 1 2 3 : -> Nat . 
 op _+_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 33] . 
 op _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 31] . 

Now, parentheses are not necessary for parsing the term 1 + 2 * 3.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX2 : 1 + 2 * 3 . 
Nat: 1 + 2 * 3

Of course, we may still use parentheses.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX2 : (1 + 2) * 3 . 
Nat: (1 + 2) * 3

Since the default gathering patterns for binary operators like _+_ and _*_ is (E E), a term like 1 + 2 + 3 is ambiguous.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX2 : 1 + 2 + 3 . 
Warning: <standard input>, line 30: ambiguous term, two parses are: 
1 + (2 + 3) -versus- (1 + 2) + 3 
Arbitrarily taking the first as correct. Nat: 1 + (2 + 3)

As above, we may use parentheses to parse such terms.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX2 : (1 + 2) + 3 . 
Nat: (1 + 2) + 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX2 : 1 + (2 + 3) . 
Nat: 1 + (2 + 3)

Let us now consider the module PARSING-EX3, where _+_ and _*_ are declared to be left-associative, that is, with gathering patterns (E e).

fmod PARSING-EX3 is 
 sort Nat . 
 ops 1 2 3 : -> Nat . 
 op _+_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 33 gather (E e)] . 
 op _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 31 gather (E e)] . 

Now, the terms above have unambiguous parses.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX3 : 1 + 2 * 3 . 
Nat: 1 + 2 * 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX3 : 1 + 2 + 3 . 
Nat: 1 + 2 + 3

Let us now consider the module PARSING-EX4, where _+_ and _*_ are declared to be associative. Note that in this case, by default, they are assigned gathering patterns (E e).

fmod PARSING-EX4 is 
 sort Nat . 
 ops 1 2 3 : -> Nat . 
 op _+_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 33 assoc] . 
 op _*_ : Nat Nat -> Nat [prec 31 assoc] . 

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX4 : 1 + 2 * 3 . 
Nat: 1 + 2 * 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX4 : 1 + 2 + 3 . 
Nat: 1 + 2 + 3

We illustrate the use of the extended signature in which all terms are parsed with the following examples.

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : (2 + 3).Nat . 
Nat: 2 + 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : (2).Nat + 3 . 
Nat: 2 + 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : (2).Nat + (3).Nat . 
Nat: 2 + 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : ((1) + ((2) + (3))) . 
Nat: 1 + (2 + 3)

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX1 : _+_(1, _+_(2, 3)) . 
Nat: 1 + (2 + 3)

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX4 : _+_(1, 2, 3) . 
Nat: 1 + 2 + 3

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX4 : if 1 == 2 then 1 + 2 else _+_(1, 2) fi . 
Nat: if 1 == 2 then 1 + 2 else 1 + 2 fi

Maude> parse in PARSING-EX4 : 
       if _==_(1, 2) 
       then if_then_else_fi(1 + 2 :: Nat, 1 * 1, 2 * 1) 
       else _+_(1, 2) 
       fi . 
Nat: if 1 == 2 
    then if (1 + 2) :: Nat 
        then 1 * 1 
        else 2 * 1 
    else 1 + 2