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Language peer sets for LIMBO:
United States
United States/1996
Designed 1996
1990s languages
Fifth generation
Post-Cold War


alternate simple view
Country: United States
Designed 1996

Doward, Winterbottom, and Pike, Bell (Lucent) 1995
So called for the Dantean naming scheme (Inferno, Limbo, Dis, Vita Nuova etc) - according to the VN website, "Rob Pike was reading Dante's Divine Comedy when the Computing Science Research Group at Bell Labs was working on Inferno"

Strongly typed, provides automatic garbage collection, supports only very restricted pointers, and compiles into machine-independent byte code for execution on a virtual machine. The language is intended for applications running distributed systems on small computers. It supports modular programming, strong type checking at compile and run-time, interprocess communications over typed channels, automatic garbage collection, and simple abstract data types. It is designed for safe execution even on small machines without hardware memory protection.

Clu-style exception handling added in 2003:
"We have added exception handling to the Limbo language, replacing sys->rescue etc. This is intended to make it more straightforward to write fault-tolerant subsystems. The semantics broadly follow that used by the programming language CLU. There are many advantages: it is structured and fits into the language rather than being bolted on; the programmer, compilers and JIT can see the scope of exception handlers, allowing the system (for instance) to nil out values in the block on an exception, and get register allocation right; and the implementation is better. The source changes to Limbo applications are relatively small, and the result is tidier. "

Ada-95 style fixed point maths added:
"We have also added fixed-point arithmetic type and operators to Limbo. The intention is to simplify the implementation of fixed-point algorithms especially when interacting with devices that provide fixed-point values or when working on a platform without floating-point support. The underlying model is broadly that developed for Ada-95's fixed-point (with one or two artifacts left over from Ada-83 eliminated)."

Related languages
Ada 95 LIMBO   Incorporated some features of
ALEF LIMBO   Influence
C LIMBO   Influence
CLU LIMBO   Incorporated some features of
CSP LIMBO   Influence
Newsqueak LIMBO   Influence
Pascal LIMBO   Influence

  • Kernighan, Brian W. (1996) Kernighan, Brian W. "A Descent into Limbo" Bell Labs 1996 Abstract Online copy Extract: Introduction
  • WInterbottom and Pike (1997) Winterbottom, Phil and Rob Pike "The design of the Inferno virtual machine" IEEE Compcon 97 Proceedings, 1997 Abstract Online copy
  • Cox, Russ (2000) Cox, Russ "Overview of Plan 9 threads" Extract: Limbo
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