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About this course

Welcome to A596/B521/C311/H311! The official course description:

Systematic approach to programming languages. Relationships among languages, properties and features of languages, and the computer environment necessary to use languages. Lecture and laboratory.

As a future professional computer scientist, you should be comfortable with all programming languages, even those that haven't been invented yet. The way to do this is to understand the principles of programming languages. That is the goal of this course. Although we use the Racket language as our medium for learning, the concepts covered in the course apply to programming languages in general.

We will study the principles of programming languages from an operational perspective – that is, by writing working programs. (Not only is this approach effective, we believe it's also a lot of fun! But you don't have to take our word for it – see the testimonials page.) The weekly programming assignments are therefore an essential part of the course. Assignments will be posted on Friday morning, and are due at 11:59 p.m. the following Thursday unless otherwise stated.

This course typically has a waitlist. If you are on the waitlist, please consider attending anyway. Though we can't make any *promises* we have yet to be unable to accommodate a student on the waitlist. If you want into the course, we will make every effort to get you in.

About learning Racket

Racket can be installed from here. This installation includes the Racket compiler and REPL that you could use on the command line. It also includes a graphical text editor/IDE called DrRacket which is the main way in which we will be interacting with Racket during the course. This webpage includes a few resources that would help you get familiarized with the Racket language. Not knowing about the Racket language before taking this course should not be an issue since we will teach you the Racket features relevant to the course as and when we come across them. If you encounter any Racket function/macro in the assignments or lecture notes that you are unfamiliar with, then you could search for that function on the Racket documentation website. Finally, if any of these resources are unable to help you, then you could contact the instructors during office hours.

C311/H311/A596 lecture and lab schedule

  • Lecture (with Dan Friedman & co.): Monday & Wednesday, 11:30 PM – 12:45 PM, Luddy Hall (Informatics) (IF) 1104
  • Lab (Section 1): Friday, 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM, Ballantine Hall (BH) 232
  • Lab (Section 2): Friday, 12:40 PM – 01:30 PM, Myles Brand Hall (I) 232

B521 lecture schedule (taught only in Fall)

  • Lecture (with Dan Friedman & co.): Tuesday & Thursday, 11:30 AM–12:45 PM

Supplementary Course materials

See the Key page for links to essential software and reference materials. There is no required textbook for this course. The best reading material for the course will be the notes you take yourself, plus the occasional handout during lecture. If you prefer to supplement your learning with the printed page, though, here are a few good resources. We have selected sections of these books as additional resources where useful during the semester.

  • Essentials of Programming Languages, third edition, Daniel P. Friedman and Mitchell Wand, MIT Press, 2008.
  • Scheme and the Art of Programming, George Springer and Daniel P. Friedman, The McGraw-Hill Companies, 1999.

Ancillary Resources

For those hungry for even more, you might consider some of the following:

  • The Scheme Programming Language, Fourth Edition, R. Kent Dybvig, MIT Press, 2009. Available online.
  • The Little Schemer, fourth edition, Daniel P. Friedman and Matthias Felleisen, MIT Press, 1995.
  • The Seasoned Schemer, Daniel P. Friedman and Matthias Felleisen, MIT Press, 1996.
  • The Reasoned Schemer, Second Edition, Daniel P. Friedman, William E. Byrd, Oleg Kiselyov, and Jason Hemann, MIT Press, 2018.

Course policies

Please read the course policies carefully, and contact an instructor if you're unsure about their content.

 

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