When I first posted messages to comp.lang.postscript about my efforts to write a postscript interpreter I was informed that it takes approximately 5-10 man-years to write a fully-compliant level-3 interpreter. And I misread it as 3-5 years and happily set about my task. And after 5 years, thinking I should be about done, I re-read that old message and became enlightened (as to the true importance (and correctness) of that estimated quantity of work).

In like vein, were I to set about re-implementing the basic TeX engine (in my fancy favorite language, of course) how many years is it gonna take?

Presumably, the time should be rather low, since the source is published as a literate program. But my pascal is a little rusty.

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    TeX -- the program -- has long since been ported to C. If you want to port it to yet another language, you may want to start with the C version, not the Pascal version. – Mico Oct 18 '14 at 9:09
  • That's very useful, but then I can't just buy the cheap edition on Amazon. :( ... More seriously, I imagine there must be a number, passed around among those luaTex contex and latex guys. – luser droog Oct 18 '14 at 9:18
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    NTS anyone? ;-) – mbork Oct 18 '14 at 9:26
  • @luserdroog - My impression is that there are many more tools to port a C program to some other language than is the case for a Pascal program. However, I'm definitely not a computer scientist, and I'm thus in no position to offer more detailed comments on this subject. – Mico Oct 18 '14 at 9:28
  • Acknowledged. But at the risk of appearing eccentric, I could never be satisfied with a mechanical translation. I really want to get my fingers dirty. ... And at least for Postscript, there are traces of such projects, but few artifacts have survived to the present. And a new compiler would be yet another can o'worms. ... Although, that would also be a nice meaty project. – luser droog Oct 18 '14 at 9:30

You may be interested in Doug McKenna's report on his project re-implementing TeX in Objective C. I don't believe the video is out yet. (He named a multi-year time but I'm afraid I don't remember it exactly.)

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