I’m spending my summer using LLVM to generate code for DJ, the programming language Dr. Ligatti devised for the spring 2020 Compilers course at USF. DJ provides a printNat function, which prints a natural number to the console. In the course, this function was readily available in the instruction set our compilers generated (this was also devised by Dr. Ligatti.) Because printNat is in this sense provided by the runtime, I had to make it available in some fashion from my LLVM-backed compiler. I wasn’t able to succeed in doing this the way the LLVM Kaleidoscope tutorial suggests, so after some research, I implemented the functionality as in the example below.

The code

#include "llvm/ADT/APInt.h"
#include "llvm/IR/BasicBlock.h"
#include "llvm/IR/Function.h"
#include "llvm/IR/IRBuilder.h"
#include "llvm/IR/Module.h"
#include "llvm/Support/raw_ostream.h"
#include <memory>
#include <vector>

using namespace llvm;

static LLVMContext TheContext;
static IRBuilder<> Builder(TheContext);

int main() {
  static std::unique_ptr<Module> TheModule;
  TheModule = std::make_unique<Module>("inputFile", TheContext);
  /*Declare that printf exists and has signature int (i8*, ...)**/
  std::vector<Type *> args;
  /*`true` specifies the function as variadic*/
  FunctionType *printfType =
      FunctionType::get(Builder.getInt32Ty(), args, true);
  Function::Create(printfType, Function::ExternalLinkage, "printf",
  /*begin codegen for `main`*/
  FunctionType *mainType = FunctionType::get(Builder.getInt32Ty(), false);
  Function *main = Function::Create(mainType, Function::ExternalLinkage, "main",
  BasicBlock *entry = BasicBlock::Create(TheContext, "entry", main);
  /*Set up printf arguments*/
  std::vector<Value *> printArgs;
  Value *formatStr = Builder.CreateGlobalStringPtr("%d\n");
  /*We will be printing "20"*/
  printArgs.push_back(ConstantInt::get(TheContext, APInt(32, 20)));
  Builder.CreateCall(TheModule->getFunction("printf"), printArgs);
  /*return value for `main`*/
  Builder.CreateRet(ConstantInt::get(TheContext, APInt(32, 0)));
  /*Emit the LLVM IR to the console*/
  TheModule->print(outs(), nullptr);


I am using clang/llvm versions 10.0.0 at the time of this writing. I compile the above as clang++ `llvm-config --cxxflags --ldflags --system-libs --libs all` test.cpp. When run, it generates the following IR:

; ModuleID = 'inputFile'
source_filename = "inputFile"

@0 = private unnamed_addr constant [4 x i8] c"%d\0A\00", align 1

declare i32 @printf(i8\*, ...)

define i32 @main() {
%0 = call i32 (i8*, ...) @printf(i8* getelementptr inbounds ([4 x i8], [4 x i8]\* @0, i32 0, i32 0), i32 20)
ret i32 0

Instead of writing a whole output pass (see here for that,) we can throw the output IR into a file test.ll and compile it with clang:

$ clang test.ll
warning: overriding the module target triple with x86_64-pc-linux-gnu [-Woverride-module]
1 warning generated.
$ ./a.out

A caveat and potential solution

Of course, a program won’t only have one print statement in it! Using the example above as part of a codegen method for a print statement node in your AST will result in having a new constant declared for each print statement in the program:

@0 = private unnamed_addr constant [4 x i8] c"%d\0A\00", align 1
@1 = private unnamed_addr constant [4 x i8] c"%d\0A\00", align 1
@2 = private unnamed_addr constant [4 x i8] c"%d\0A\00", align 1
@3 = private unnamed_addr constant [4 x i8] c"%d\0A\00", align 1

I haven’t resolved this issue in my own code base yet. I did attempt having the formatStr variable be global, but this was causing seg faults in the CreateGlobalStringPtr method. It seems like the -constmerge transform pass handles this, but I have yet to implement any passes in my compiler beyond the one that emits object code.