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 Tool turns English to code

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Date posted: 24/03/2005

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a crude converter that takes in written English and outputs code.

The interpreter, called Metafor, uses natural language instructions to sketch the outlines of a program. It can be used as a programming learning tool and to provide rough drafts of programming projects.

Hugo Liu, a researcher at MIT said "Natural language is so semantically rich and flexible that if it could be computationalized as a programming language, maybe everyone could write programs,".

Metafor organizes a natural-language description of a program into the skeleton of a program by mapping the inherent structure of English -- parts of speech, syntax, and subject-verb-object roles -- into a basic programmatic structure of class objects, properties, functions, and if-then rules, said Liu.

This is not the same as creating executable code, Liu added. "To visualize stories as code is not to create complete executable code, but rather it is to create scaffolding code which might be the highest-level skeleton of a program," he said.

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