Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Informatics

No 1999-12: Safeness of make-based incremental recompilation

Niels Jørgensen
Additional contact information
Niels Jørgensen: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60 , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: The make program is widely used in the software industry to reduce compilation time in large projects. Make skips source files that would have compiled to the same result as in the previous build. (Or so it is hoped, at least.) The crucial issue of safeness of omitting a full build-from-scratch is adresses by defining a semantic model for make. The model is in some ways similar to modles proposed for logic programming languages, because makefiles, similarly to logic programs, have no global variables and execution is query driven. Safeness is shown to hold if a set of criteria are satisfied, including soundness, fairness, and completeness of makefile rules. The safeness result is useful for the makefile programmer because these criteria, while stated formally, are also intuitively reasonable, and may form a basis for a kind of checklist for makefile rules. The rigorous semantic definition for make may also be helpful in the construction of tools for automatic makefile generation

Keywords: Software; IT industry; safety; programming

JEL-codes: D23; L63; O14; O39

7 pages, May 23, 1999

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