Welcome to Programming Languages!


These slides are also available in PDF format: 4:3 PDF, 16:9 PDF, 16:10 PDF.

Who am I?


(and you should call me “Sumner”)

Absolutely not my name:

  • Jonathan (I don’t go by my first name ever; call me Sumner)
  • Dr. Evans (I am NOT a doctor)
  • Mr. Evans (Wait, my dad isn’t here)
  • Professor Sumner (Insulting to actual professors)

What is this course?

  • Programming Language Design & Implementation:
    • What makes a good programming language?
    • What are the common trade-offs in programming language design?
    • What techniques are used to implement programming languages?
    • We’re even going to implement our own programming languages!
  • Theoretical Foundations of Programming Languages

Why take a PL course?

  • If you’re going to be a software engineer:

    • As we work in a rapidly evolving industry, you’ll be able to learn new languages quicker, and make the right choices for your next software design
    • You’ll learn practical skills, such as parsing complex inputs, even if the skills aren’t applied to making a programming language
  • If you’re going to be a computer scientist:

    • Through programming languages, you will experience a very practical application of computational theory
    • We will cover the mathematical foundations of programming languages
  • If you’re going to do something else:

    Quote from a student a few semesters ago

    “I didn’t realize how useful PL would be until I wrote an assembler for my internship this past summer!”

    (this student was in EE department)

What goes into this PL course?

  • Programming:
    • Python (serving as a multi-paradigm OO-language)
    • Racket (serving as a first step into language oriented programming)
    • One language of your choice (Language Explore Project)
    • Many more
  • Theory:
    • Parsing
    • Typing systems
    • Memory management
    • Lambda calculus
    • Regular expressions and finite state machines
    • Much more

Assignments & Projects

Homework:You’ll be given both programming and theory-related homework assignments
Explore Project:
 You’ll be given the chance to study a language of your choice. You will submit some example programs that your wrote in this language and give a short presentation on it
SlytherLisp:You’ll implement a programming language interpreter for a Scheme-like programming language over the course of the semester


  • Prerequisites: CSCI 262 (Data Structures) and CSCI 306 (Software Engineering) [1]
  • Basic Linux skills are a must; CSCI 274 recommended
  • All of your code is expected to run on the machines in the ALAMODE (BB 136) Linux lab
  • Familiarity with C (or C++) will be helpful
[1]If you have prior experience in Java or other OOP languages, I may (at my own discretion) waive this prerequisite. Please contact me if you are interested in pursuing this option.

Linux Support

The Mines Linux Users Group can help you install, setup, and learn about Linux. They have meetings open to the campus Thursdays at 6 PM.

They also have Linux Help Sessions at 5 PM every Thursday before the main meeting. Your instructor happens to be the Linux Help Guru.

Sign up for the mailing list for more info: https://lug.mines.edu/mailinglist.

Learning Groups

You may notice you are seated with a Learning Group:

  • Please sit with them each lecture
  • You will be given assignments to complete with your group outside of lecture
  • In class, you will often share your findings with your group members
  • We will change groups every few weeks

Grading Policy

This course is worth 1000 points. The points are allocated as follows:

  1. Two Exams. 170 points each. Total 340 points.
  2. Two Projects. Total 350 points.
  3. Three Homework Assignments. Total 250 points.
  4. Learning Group Participation. 60 points.

The Syllabus has a much more detailed explanation of this breakdown.

The course uses the plus/minus grading scale.

Late Policy

You can turn in homework and deliverables on projects using the slip day system. Here’s how it works:

  1. You currently have 8 slip days.
  2. For each 24-hours you turn in an assignment late, it will cost you one slip day.
  3. Note the number of slip days you are spending when you turn in.
  4. You cannot spend more than 5 slip days on a single assignment without asking for instructor permission.

Textbooks and Other Resources