PyPy Parser


The PyPy parser includes a tokenizer and a recursive descent parser.


At the moment, the tokenizer is implemented as a single function (generate_tokens in pypy/interpreter/pyparser/ that builds a list of tokens. The tokens are then fed to the parser.


The parser is a simple LL(1) parser that is similar to CPython’s.

Building the Python grammar

The python grammar is built at startup from the pristine CPython grammar file (see pypy/interpreter/pyparser/ The grammar builder first represents the grammar as rules corresponding to a set of Nondeterministic Finite Automatons (NFAs). It then converts them to a set of Deterministic Finite Automatons (DFAs). The difference between a NFA and a DFA is that a NFA may have several possible next states for any given input while a DFA may only have one. DFAs are therefore more limiting, but far more efficient to use in parsing. Finally, the assigns the grammar builder assigns each DFA state a number and packs them into a list for the parser to use. The final product is an instance of the Grammar class in pypy/interpreter/pyparser/

Parser implementation

The workhorse of the parser is the add_token method of the Parser class. It tries to find a transition from the current state to another state based on the token it receives as a argument. If it can’t find a transition, it checks if the current state is accepting. If it’s not, a ParseError is raised. When parsing is done without error, the parser has built a tree of Node.

Parsing Python

The glue code between the tokenizer and the parser as well as extra Python specific code is in pypy/interpreter/pyparser/ The parse_source method takes a string of Python code and returns the parse tree. It also detects the coding cookie if there is one and decodes the source. Note that __future__ imports are handled before the parser is invoked by manually parsing the source in pypy/interpreter/pyparser/


The next step in generating Python bytecode is converting the parse tree into an Abstract Syntax Tree (AST).

Building AST

Python’s AST is described in pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/tools/Python.asdl. From this definition, pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/tools/ generates pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/, which RPython classes for the compiler as well as bindings to application level code for the AST. Some custom extensions to the AST classes are in pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/

pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/ is responsible for converting parse trees into AST. It walks down the parse tree building nodes as it goes. The result is a toplevel mod node.

AST Optimization

pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/ contains the AST optimizer. It does constant folding of expressions, and other simple transformations like making a load of the name “None” into a constant.

Symbol analysis

Before writing bytecode, a symbol table is built in pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/ It determines if every name in the source is local, implicitly global (no global declaration), explicitly global (there’s a global declaration of the name in the scope), a cell (the name in used in nested scopes), or free (it’s used in a nested function).

Bytecode generation

Bytecode is emitted in pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/ Each bytecode is represented temporarily by the Instruction class in pypy/interpreter/astcompiler/ After all bytecodes have been emitted, it’s time to build the code object. Jump offsets and bytecode information like the line number table and stack depth are computed. Finally, everything is passed to a brand new PyCode object.