Interpreter Design Pattern in Rust

1. Definition

The Interpreter design pattern provides a way to evaluate language grammar or expressions for particular languages. It involves implementing an expression interface and concrete classes implementing this interface to interpret the sentences of the language.

2. Problem Statement

Suppose you are building a tool that needs to evaluate complex expressions or sentences in a particular language. Writing procedural code for each kind of expression can become unwieldy and hard to maintain.

3. Solution

Define a grammar for the language and represent the grammar rules as domain classes. These classes would then work together to interpret and evaluate expressions of the language.

4. Real-World Use Cases

1. Query languages, like SQL.

2. Parsers for configuration files.

3. Simple domain-specific languages (DSL).

5. Implementation Steps

1. Define an abstract syntax tree representing the grammar elements.

2. Implement an interface or trait which declares an interpret method.

3. Concrete classes will implement this interface to interpret specific grammar rules.

6. Implementation in Rust Programming

// The Context keeps track of information that the interpreter needs
struct Context {
    input: String,
    output: i32,
// The Abstract Expression trait
trait Expression {
    fn interpret(&self, context: &mut Context);
// Terminal Expression
struct NumberExpression {
    number: i32,
impl NumberExpression {
    fn new(number: i32) -> Self {
        NumberExpression { number }
impl Expression for NumberExpression {
    fn interpret(&self, context: &mut Context) {
        context.output = self.number;
// Client Code
fn main() {
    let context = &mut Context {
        input: "Number: 5".to_string(),
        output: 0,
    let number = NumberExpression::new(5);
    println!("Interpreted number: {}", context.output);


"Interpreted number: 5"


1. The Context struct maintains global information (like the input string and the output value).

2. The Expression trait represents the abstract syntax tree nodes.

3. The NumberExpression is a terminal expression in the grammar which simply interprets a number.

4. In the client code, we instantiate a terminal expression (NumberExpression) and interpret it.

Note: This is a simple representation. In real-world scenarios, more complex non-terminal expressions that combine other expressions can be built to form a more detailed syntax tree.

7. When to use?

Use the Interpreter pattern when:

1. The grammar of the language is simple. For complex grammars, tools like parsers/compilers are more suitable.

2. Efficiency is not a primary concern.

3. You have a class hierarchy that can be easily mirrored to the grammar hierarchy.