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c++.chat - Learn to write a compiler?

Hello all! This is the off-topic section, right? ;)

I may be wrong but it seems to me most of the compilers at least most of the
great ones are written by a very small pool of people. That tells me it's
probably pretty hard to do a good job or everybody would be doing it. Anyway
it's pretty obvious Walter knows what he is doing.

My question is how to get started with compiler writing. My background is
I'm a guy who has written systems software in assembler for a long time on
large IBM systems. I'm not an academic and I'm pretty crappy at math. Do I
really need to understand finite automata (did I even spell that right?!)
and graph theory and technical topics like that to be able to write a
good compiler? I'm fascinated by this topic but know nothing about it. I
haven't been able to find any general, practical guides to writing compilers
that aren't based on x86 and C or Java, all stuff I really don't know about
and honestly am not all that interested in knowing about. I would like to
use the skills I have and write a compiler for the platform I use in my
job. In other words, I'll never be any competition for Walter or the C/C++
market but you already knew that. ;)

Walter, have you written any books on the topic and can you recommend any
practical guides? Would you say a little about your background and how you
got started writing compilers? The whole topic is interesting to me.

Thanks,

Mike
Feb 11 2011