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CS152 Fall 2008 Sec1 Home Page/Syllabus

Programming Language Principles

Instructor: Chris Pollett
Office: MH 214
Phone Number: (408) 924 5145
Office Hours: MW 3pm-5:15pm
Class Meets:
Sec1 MW 12:00pm-1:15pm in MH222


To take this class you must have taken: CS151 or CMPE135/SE135 with a grade of C- or better.

Texts and Links

Required Texts: Programming Languages: Principles and Practice. by Kenneth C. Louden.
Online References and Other Links: Cygwin.
Dr. Scheme.
Standard ML of New Jersey.
XSB Prolog.

Topics and Outcomes

This course covers the basics of programming language syntax and semantics. We will begin by saying what is a programming language and then introduce four cmmon computational paradigms: structured programming, object-oriented programming, functional programming, and declarative programming. We will talk a little about how the history of programming in each of these paradigms evolved. We will then introduce gcc (a compiler for the structured language C), flex, bison, and make -- some common tools for creating new languages. Make will be our first example of a declarative language; however, it is not Turing complete. We will cover some common design principles for making a usable and efficient language as well as discuss regular expression for lexical analysis and context free grammars to specify and parse languages. We then describe how a parser can be used to give meaning (aka semantics) to common language aspects, like declarations, blocks, etc and how a symbol table works. Before we switch away from using our parsing tools, I will then introduce an object oriented language based on C called Objective C. I might demo some aspects of object-orientation by creating a simple iPhone app. We will then begin covering two functional programming languages: Scheme and ML, the former being untyped and the latter being strongly typed. The strict typing mechanism of ML will provide a suitable segue into how data types are handled in programming languages. We will then talk about how procedures, environments and memory allocation are done in programming languages. Finally, we will talk about logic programming, unification, and the Prolog language, a Turing complete declarative language. By the end of this course, a student should be able to: (1) Have a basic knowledge of the history of programming languages. (2) Have a basic knowledge of the procedural, object-oriented, functional, and logic programming paradigms. (3) Understand the roles of interpreters, compilers, and virtual machines. (4) Critique the design of a programming language (5) Read and produce context-free grammars. (6) Write recursive-descent parsers for simple languages, by hand or with a parser generator. (7) Understand variable scoping and lifetimes. (8) Write interpreters for simple languages that involve arithmetic expressions, bindings of values to names, and function calls. (9) Understand type systems. (10) Understand the implementation of procedure calls and stack frames. (11) Produce programs in a functional programming language in excess of 200 lines of code.

Below is a tentative time table for when we'll do things this quarter:

Week 1: Aug 25, Aug 27 Read Ch 1
Week 2: Sep 1 (Holiday) , Sep 3 Read Ch 2
Week 3: Sep 8 , Sep 10 We will be talking about C, gcc, make
Week 4: Sep 15 (HW1 due) , Sep 17 Read Ch 4.1-4.3
Week 5: Sep 22 , Sep 24 Finish Ch 4
Week 6: Sep 29 , Oct 1 Ch 5.1-5.3
Week 7: Oct 6 , Oct 8 Finish Ch 5
Week 8: Oct 13 , Oct 15 Oct 17 (HW3 due) We will talk about object orientation in the context of Objective C
Week 9: Oct 20 , Oct 22 (Midterm) Review
Week 10: Oct 27 , Oct 29 Ch 11
Week 11: Nov 3 , Nov 5 Read Ch 6.1-6.4
Week 12: Nov 10 (HW4 due) , Nov 12 Finish Ch 6
Week 13: Nov 17 , Nov 19 Read Ch 8.1-8.4
Week 14: Nov 24 (HW5 due) , Nov 26 Finish Ch 8.
Week 15: Dec 1 , Dec 3 Start Ch 12.
Week 16: Dec 8 , Dec 10 (HW6 due) Finish Ch 12. Review
The final will be Monday, Dec 15 from 9:45am to 12:00pm


Homeworks 50%
Midterm 20%
Final 30%

Grades will be calculated in the following manner: The person or persons with the highest aggregate score will receive an A+. A score of 55 will be the cut-off for a C-. The region between this high and low score will be divided into eight equal-sized regions. From the top region to the low region, a score falling within a region receives the grade: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-. If the boundary between an A and an A- is 85, then the score 85 counts as an A-. Scores below 55 but above 50 receive the grade D. Those below 50 receive the grade F.

If you do better than an A- in this class and want me to write you a letter of recommendation, I will generally be willing provided you ask me within two years of taking my course. Be advised that I write better letters if I know you to some degree.

Homework Info

Links to the current list of assignments can be found on the left hand frame of the class homepage. After an assignment has been returned a link to its solution (based on the best student solutions) will be placed off the assignment page. Material from assignments may appear on midterms and finals. For homeworks you are encouraged to work in groups of up to three people. Only one person out of this group needs to submit the homework assignment; however, the members of the group need to be clearly identified in all submitted files. Homeworks for this class will be submitted and returned completely electronically. To submit an assignment click on the submit homework link for your section on the left hand side of the homepage and filling out the on-line form. Hardcopies or e-mail versions of your assignments will be rejected and not receive credit. Homeworks will always be due by the start of class on the day their due. Late homeworks will not be accepted; however, your low homework score will be dropped.

For this class, I expect each student to have available a laptop with the software installed: gcc compiler suite, flex, bison, make, drscheme, smlnj, and xsb prolog. Your laptop will be used whenever you want to show me something in my office concerning one of your projects.

When doing the programming part of an assignment please make sure to adhere to the specification given as closely as possible. Names of files should be as given, etc. Failure to follow the specification may result in your homework not being graded and you receiving a zero for your work.


The midterm will be during class time on: Oct 22 .

The final will be: Monday, Dec 15 from 9:45am to 12:00pm.

All exams are closed book, closed notes and in this classroom. You will be allowed only the test and your pen or pencil on your desk during these exams. Beeper or cell-phone interruptions will result in immediate excusal from the test. The final will cover material from the whole quarter although there will be an emphasis on material after the last midterm. No make ups will be given. The final exam may be scaled to replace a midterm grade if it was missed under provably legitimate circumstances. These exams will test whether or not you have mastered the material both presented in class or assigned as homework during the quarter. My exams usually consist of a series of essay style questions. I try to avoid making tricky problems. The week before each exam I will give out a list of problems representative of the level of difficulty of problems the student will be expected to answer on the exam. Any disputes concerning grades on exams should be directed to me, Professor Pollett.


If you believe an error was made in the grading of your program or exam, you may request in person a regrade from me, Professor Pollett, during my office hours. I do not accept e-mail requests for regrades. A request for a regrade must be made no more than a week after the homework or a midterm is returned. If you cannot find me before the end of the semester and you would like to request a regrade of your final, you may see me in person at the start of the immediately following semester.

Academic Honesty

Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University, and the University's Academic Integrity Policy requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The policy on academic integrity can be found at

Specifically, for this class, you should obviously not cheat on tests. For homeworks, you should not discuss or share code or problem solutions between groups! At a minimum a 0 on the assignment or test will be given. A student caught using resources like Rent-a-coder will receive an F for the course and be referred to University for disciplinary action.

Additional Policies and Procedures

The campus policy to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is:
"If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with DRC to establish a record of their disability."

More information about SJSU policies and procedures can be found at the following links: