Delorean is a simple functional scripting language. It is used at PENNYMAC as a scripting language for a financial modeling system.


$ gem install delorean_lang

Or add it to your Gemfile, etc.


require 'delorean_lang'

engine ="MyModule")

my_code =<<eom
    param =?
    attr1 = param * 3
    attr2 = attr1 + 3
    attr3 = attr1 / attr2
NodeB: NodeA
    attr3 = attr1 / NodeA.attr3

engine.parse my_code

engine.evaluate("NodeB", %w{attr1 attr2 attr3}, {"param"=>15})

The Delorean Language


  • The primary motivation for creation of Delorean was to provide a simple scripting language for use by financial analysts.

  • The scripting language needed to be tightly coupled with Ruby. i.e. be able to query ActiveRecord models. Ruby itself was deemed too complex for our users. Also, sand-boxing Ruby to prevent unauthorized data access did not seem practical.

  • Many of the financial models created at PENNYMAC are simple modifications of earlier models. It was important for the scripting language to provide a simple inheritance model such that major parts of these models could be shared.

Concepts & Tutorial

Delorean is a functional programming language. As such, it eschews mutable data and state. There's also no concept of I/O in the classic sense.

A Delorean script is comprised of a set of Nodes which include a collection of attribute definitions. The following is a simple node definition:

    attr1 = 123
    attr2 = attr1*2

In the above example, NodeA is a new node definition. This node includes two attributes: attr1 and attr2. attr1 is defined to be the integer literal 123. attr2 is a function which is defined as attr1 multiplied by 2.

Computation in Delorean happens through evaluation of node attributes. Therefore, in the above example, NodeA.attr2 evaluates to 246.

Delorean attribute definitions have the following form:

attr = expression

Where attr is an attribute name. Attribute names are required to match the following regular expression: [a-z][a-zA-Z0-9_]*. An attribute can only be specified once in a node. Also, any attributes it refers to in its expression must have been previously defined.

Delorean also provides a mechanism to provide "input" to a computation. This is performed thorough a special kind of attribute called a parameter. The following example shows the usage of a parameter:

    param =? "hello"
    attr = param + " world"

In this example, param is defined as a parameter whose default value is "hello", which is a string literal. If we evaluate NodeB.attr without providing param, the result will be the string "hello world". If the param is sent in with the value "look out", then NodeB.attr will evaluate to "look out world".

The parameter default value is optional. If no default value if provided for a parameter, then a value must be sent in if that parameter is involved in a computation. Otherwise an error will result.

An important concept in Delorean is that of node inheritance. This mechanism allows nodes to derive functionality from previously defined nodes. The following example shows the usage of inheritance:

    age = ?
    teen_max = 19
    teen_min = 13
    is_teenager = age >= teen_min && age <= teen_max

IndiaInfo: USInfo
    teen_min = 10

In this example, node USInfo provides a definition of a is_teenager when provided with an age parameter. Node IndiaInfo is derived from USInfo and so it shares all of its attribute definitions. However, the teen_min attribute has been overridden. This specifies that the computation of is_teenager will use the newly defined teen_min. Therefore, IndiaInfo.is_teenager with input of age = 10 will evaluate to true. Whereas, USInfo.is_teenager with input of age = 10 will evaluate to false.


You can use (ERR()) to add a breakpoint:

    age = ?
    teen_max = 19
    teen_min = 13
    is_teenager = (ERR()) && age >= teen_min && age <= teen_max

Then you can call attributes by using their mangled name (e.g. attr_D) and passing the context. attr_D(_e). Of course, you can use ls to list available methods.

  teen_max__D(_e) # 19


TODO: provide details on the following topics:

  • Supported data types
  • Data structures (arrays and hashes)
  • List comprehension
  • Built-in functions
  • Defining Delorean-callable class functions
  • External modules


This implementation of Delorean "compiles" script code to Ruby.

Calling ruby methods from Delorean

There are two ways of calling ruby code from delorean. First one is to whitelist methods:

  ::Delorean::Ruby.whitelist.add__method :any? do |method|
    method.called_on Enumerable

  ::Delorean::Ruby.whitelist.add_method :length do |method|
    method.called_on String
    method.called_on Enumerable

  ::Delorean::Ruby.whitelist.add_method :first do |method|
    method.called_on Enumerable, with: [Integer]

  ::Delorean::Ruby.whitelist.add_class_method :last do |method|
    method.called_on ActiveRecord::Base, with: [Integer]

By default Delorean has some methods whitelisted, such as length, min, max, etc. Those can be found in /lib/delorean/ruby/whitelists/default. If you don't want to use defaults, you can override whitelist with and empty one.

  require 'delorean/ruby/whitelists/empty'

  ::Delorean::Ruby.whitelist =

Another way is to define methods using delorean_fn with optional private and cache flags. Use extend Delorean::Functions or include Delorean::Model in your module or class.

class Dummy < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Delorean::Model

  delorean_fn(:heres_my_number) do |*a|
    a.inject(0, :+)

  delorean_fn :private_cached_number, cache: true, private: true do |*a|
    a.inject(0, :+)

module DummyModule
  extend Delorean::Functions

  delorean_fn(:heres_my_number) do |*a|
    a.inject(0, :+)

heres_my_number method will be accessible from Delorean code.

    a = Dummy.heres_my_number(867, 5309)'
    b = DummyModule.heres_my_number(867, 5309)'

You can use blocks in your Delorean code:

    a = [1, 2, 3]
    b = c.any?
        item =?
        result = item > 2
    c = a.reduce(0)
        sum =?
        num =?
        result = sum + num

Note that do ... end syntax is not supported


Delorean provides cache flag for delorean_fn method that will cache result based on arguments.

  delorean_fn :returns_cached_openstruct, cache: true do |timestamp|

If ::Delorean::Cache.adapter.cache_item?(...) returns false then caching will not be performed.

By default cache keeps the last 1000 of the results per class. You can override it:

  ::Delorean::Cache.adapter = 10)

If you want use other caching method, you can use your own adapter:

  ::Delorean::Cache.adapter =

Delorean expects it to have methods with following signatures:

  cache_item(klass:, cache_key:, item:)

  fetch_item(klass:, cache_key:, default:)
  fetch_item(klass:, cache_key:, default:)

  cache_key(klass:, method_name:, args:)
  cache_item?(klass:, method_name:, args:)

  # See lib/delorean/cache/adapters/base.rb

Node level caching

You can enable caching for a Delorean node with _cache = true attribute.

    param1 =?
    _cache = true
    a = Dummy.heres_my_number(867, 5309)
    b = DummyModule.heres_my_number(867, 5309)
    result = b

When node is called, Delorean would check if there is a cached result for a combination of node parameters values and the attribute that is to be returned.

  ExampleScript(param1=1).result # Will calculate result and cache it for calls with `param1=1`
  ExampleScript(param1=1).result # Will fetch the cached result
  ExampleScript(param1=2).result # Will calculate result and cache it for calls with `param1=2`

Custom Node level caching policy

You can override the callback that Delorean calls before performing the caching. The callback should return a hash with :cache key. If cache: is false, then Delorean wouldn't fetch result from cache or perform caching.

::Delorean::Cache.node_cache_callback = lambda do |klass:, method:, params:|
    cache: true,

# See lib/delorean/cache.rb

TODO: provide details



Edit treetop rules in lib/delorean/delorean.treetop

Use make treetop-generate to regenerate lib/delorean/delorean.rb based on Treetop logic in lib/delorean/delorean.treetop


Use rspec to run the tests.


Delorean has been released under the MIT license. Please check the LICENSE file for more details.