It is appropriate to consider, given the amount of time invested in rewriting the interpreter, whether the time was well spent, or whether a code-generator could have been written with an equivalent amount of effort. It is the author's belief that the existing code generator for the PDP-11 series in the UNIX C compiler could have been easily modified to produce good quality code for Pascal with not much more work than was involved in rewriting px.
* With the release of Version 7 UNIX and the portable C compiler, an effort has begun to have pi use this code generator. We hope to have such a system working by September, 1979. This would allow Pascal, FORTRAN-77 and C programs to run together on all systems which support the portable C compiler.
The author feels, however, that such an endeavor would not have been a good choice for an instructional environment. The speed of binary preparation would have been degraded, and the necessary loading and assembly processes would have slowed the overall compilation process to a noticeable degree. This effect would be further exaggerated by the fact that student users spend more time in compilation than in execution. Measurements over the course of a quarter at Berkeley with a mixture of students from beginning programming to a upper division compiler construction show that the amount of time in compilation exceeds the amount of time spent in the interpreter, the ratio being approximately 60/40.
A more promising approach might have been a throw-away code generator such as was done for the WATFIV system. Here the generated code runs at full machine speed, and compilation speed is still very fast. Any code generation scheme would be hindered, however, if it tried to implement 32 bit integers as implemented by the current Berkeley Pascal interpreter. Given the small number of registers available and the difficulty of some of the long integer operations it is not clear that reasonable code generation is possible using long integers. A 16 bit code generated Pascal would be much simpler, and several other such implementations exist.
All things considered, interpretation seems to be a reasonable choice for a student environment. While a code generator for Berkeley Pascal would be a useful addition to the system, the author believes that, for instructional use, a high-quality post-mortem and interactive debugging facility would be a more valuable addition to the system than a code generator. The interpreter would be easy to modify to accomodate such facilities.