Programming Language (CS 550)
Assignments and Solutions
- Course Description
Covers basic concepts of the design and implementation of programming languages,
including data representation and types, functions, sequence control,
environments, block structure, subroutines and coroutines, storage management.
Emphasizes language features and implementation, not mastery of any particular
This is a core course required by all graduate Computer Science students and
is an elective for graduate Software Engineering students.
The course is available to other students with sufficient programming
experience (see prerequisites) who have an interest in programming languages
(e.g. Information Systems, Computer Engineering, etc.).
- Course Themes
- Evaluation and implementation of of programming languages
- Tools for describing and analyzing languages, including syntax,
semantics, and pragmatics
- Tools to design new languages
- Programming Paradigms (imperative, functional, logic,
- Implementation of programming languages
- Course Objectives
- Be able to compare and evaluate different programming languages and
implement different programming constructs and features
(e.g. variables, loops, procedures, dynamic memory).
- Be able to formally specify the syntax and semantics of programming
- Be able to write a parser and a scanner.
- Be able to write a translator to convert from one language to
- Be able to describe the semantics of and implement an interpreter and
compiler for a simple programming language.
- Be comfortable with the major programming paradigms and be able to use
at least one language from each paradigm.
- Course Benefits
- Easier to express algorithmic ideas
- Better able to formally express concepts
- Improved ability to select appropriate languages
- Easier to learn new languages
- Understand the significance and impact of language choices and
- Able to design new languages (little languages, interface
Assumes familiarity with the basics of logic (predicate calculus),
recursion and induction, automata, and grammars. All students should
be proficient with at least one object-oriented programming language
(e.g. java, C++), and it would be helpful to have seen at least two different
- Jeremy Johnson
Office: University Crossings 100C
e-mail: jjohnson AT cs DOT drexel DOT edu
office hours: R 4-6 and online W 7-8, additional hours by appointment.
- Xu Xu
Office: University Crossings 147
e-mail: xx27 AT drexel DOT edu
office hours: M 4-6, additional hours by appointment.
- Meeting Time
- Thursday 6-9:00 in UC 153 and online. The online and in class versions
of the course will be identical (in class lectures will be recorded and posted
on webct and use of online discussions will be required by everyone).
- Course Mailing List
- cs550 AT cs DOT drexel DOT edu
Please use this list for questions and discussions related to the course.
If you know the answer to someone's question, please feel free to jump in,
as long as well it is not an answer to a homework problem. I will moderate
the list so that frivolous mail and spam is not forwarded.
Kennet C. Louden, Programming Languages: Principles and Practice, 2nd Ed., Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2003.
- In addition to the official text book listed below, a variety of resources
for different programming languages will be made available and should be
consulted. Also all students must have access to the necessary compilers
and interpreters for the different languages discussed. All required
compilers/interpreters will be made available on the department of Computer
Science computers. Many, if not all, are publicaly available.
- Week 1: Functional Programming and Scheme (ch. 11 and SICP)
- Week 2: Lambda Calculus, Environments, and a Scheme Interpreter
(ch. 11 and SICP)
- Week 3: Logic Programming and Query Languages (ch. 12 and SICP)
- Week 4: Type checking and ML (ch. 6 and 11)
- Week 5: Template Meta-programming (ch. 6 and ???)
- Week 6: Parsing and Grammars (ch. 4)
- Week 7: Operational Semantics (ch. 5 and 13)
- Week 8: Mini Language Compiler (ch. 5 and 13)
- Week 9: Denotational Semantics (ch. 13 and SICP)
- Week 10: Axiomatic Semantics (ch. 13)
Students will be assigned to groups (4 students each - members may come
from either the in class or online sections). Each group
will be responsible for weekly homework (8 total), and each member
will take the lead on two of the assignments. Peer grading will be
used for group participation and discussion groups will be set up
in webct for each group and all members are expected to participate
in the discussions and contribute to every assignment. Doing all of
the assignments will be essential for the exams.
- Homework and participation (50%)
- Midterm (25%)
- Final Exam (25%)
- John R. Levine, Tony Mason, Doug Brown,
Lex & Yacc,
2nd/updated edition (October 1992), O'Reilly & Associates. An
online copy of this book is available through Drexel's library
- Alfred V. Aho and Jeffrey D. Ullman,
Foundations of Computer Science - C Edition,
W. H. Freeman and Company, 1995.
- list reference books here.
- Ken Louden's Web resources for the text Programming Languages.
- [SICP] Abelson and Sussman, Structure and Interepretation of Computer Programs.
- Graphviz - Graph Visualization Software.
- CUP Reference Manula - Parser generator for Java.
- PLY - Python Lex-Yacc.
- MIT/GNU Scheme
- Lambda Calculus Tutorial
from Chris Barker at NYU.
(Last updated Wed. April 4)
Look Here for Important Announcements
This list is tentative and may be modified at the instructor's discretion.
- Lecture 1: Functional Programming
and Scheme (ch. 11)
- Lecture 2: Operational Semantics of
scheme using Substitution (ch. 11 and ch. 3 of SICP)
- Lecture 3: A Meta-Circular Scheme Interpreter (ch. 4, sec. 1-3, of SICP)
- Lecture 4: Logic Programming and a Simple Query Language (ch. 12 of the text and ch. 4, sec. 4, of SICP)
- Lecture 5: Dynamic Memory Allocation and Garbage Collection (ch. 5 sec. 7 and ch. 8 sec. 5 of the text)
- Lecture 6: Grammars and Parsing (ch. 4 of the text)
- Lecture 7: Mini Language Interpreter (ch. 5, 7, and 8 of the text)
- Lecture 8: Mini Language Compiler (ch. 5, 7, and 8 of the text)
Programs and Worksheets
Created: 3/30/07 by jjohnson AT cs DOT drexel DOT edu
- Available for the class only through webct.