Abstract

This report examines the problem of writing a self-documenting program: a program that, when run, produces itself as output. The problem is examined from the point of view of self-reference, the property a self-documenting program must exhibit. The report proceeds from early programs that fail to work correctly, through successively sophisticated programs which approach a solution, to working self-documenting programs. Then it steps back a bit and shows how some programs can seem to cheat and still fit the definition of a self-documenting program, suggesting improvements to that definition. At each step, the report addresses how the given programs demonstrate the subtle relationship between computer programming and self-reference.


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