Instructor:David Hovemeyer
Office:KEC 113
Office Hours:TBD
Class Location:KEC 119
Class Times:T/Th 2:00 - 3:15 PM

CS 340 - Programming Language Design

Fall 2011

Updated 9/8 - schedule revised

Course Description

This course examines the semantics of programming languages. Topics include formal specifications of syntax, declarations, binding, allocation, data structures, data types, control structures, control and data flow; the implementation and execution of programs; and functional programming versus imperative programming. Other possible topics include non-procedural and logic programming; object-oriented programming; and program verification. Programming projects will provide experience in a number of computer languages.


CS 201


Friedman and Wand, Essentials of Programming Languages, 3rd ed., ISBN 0-262-06279-8.

Course Structure and Expectations

This class will cover some of the important concepts underlying computation and programming languages. We will also look at a variety of programming languages as case studies. One goal of the course is to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different languages and programming paradigms for particular kinds of applications.

I expect that you start the course with a solid grasp of programming in a traditional imperative or functional programming language.

The course will consist primarily of lecture and discussion, with occasional in-class lab activities.

Two in-class midterm exams will be given. A scheduled final exam will be given; see the Final Exam Schedule.

In-class quizzes may be given. Missed quizzes may not be made up.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Use finite automata and regular expressions to define regular languages
  • Use regular languages to define the lexical structure of programming languages
  • Use context-free grammars context-free languages
  • Use context-free languages to define programming language grammars
  • Understand the essential semantic structures of programming languages (values, types, storage, control flow, etc.)
  • Implement an interpreter for a programming language
  • Understand the important characteristics of the three main programming language paradigms: imperative, functional, and logic programming



Grades are assigned on a 100-point scale:

Numeric Range Letter Grade
90-100 A (4.0)
85-90 B+ (3.5)
80-85 B (3.0)
75-80 C+ (2.5)
70-75 C (2.0)
60-70 D (1.0)
0-60 F (0.0)

Your overall grade for the course will be determined as follows:

  • Homework and programming assignments: 35%
  • Midterm exams: 40% (20% each)
  • Final exam: 20%
  • Quizzes, and attendance/participation: 5%

Course website

Please check the course web page,, regularly for important announcements.

Reading Assignments

Reading assignments are posted in the Schedule at the end of this syllabus. I expect you to do the reading before class. When I give a lecture, I will assume you have done the reading. I encourage you to use class time to ask questions about parts of the reading you did not understand to your satisfaction.

Posting and submission of assignments and labs

Assignments and labs will be posted on the course web page,

Assignments will be submitted using the server You will receive an email containing the username and password you should use for this server.

Academic Integrity

The following policy pertains to homework and graded (individual) programming assignments:

All homework assignments and graded (individual) programming assignments are to be completed individually. I encourage you to discuss high level concepts with other students, but any work you submit must be yours alone.

Direct copying of code or other work from other students, web sites, or other sources is absolutely forbidden under any circumstances.

Any sources (books, websites, articles, fellow students, etc.) that you consult in completing an assignment must be properly acknowledged. In general, I strongly discourage you from using any resource not explicitly listed in the course syllabus or on the course web page. When you work on a programming assignment, it must be your program, not your adaptation of someone else's program.

Quizzes and exams must be completed individually.

Lab assignments are not graded---therefore, you may work with other students on them.

Any violation of the course's academic integrity policy will be referred to the Dean of Academic Affairs, and could have consequences ranging from a 0 on an assignment to dismissal from the college.

Late Assignments

Late assignments will be marked down 10% per day late. No credit will be given for assignments that are more than three (3) days late.


No make-up exams will be given without approval of the instructor prior to class unless proof of extreme emergency or illness is provided. All exams will be open book and open notes.

Attendance and Participation

I expect you to attend class and participate regularly in class activities. If you miss a class, please notify me in advance. You are responsible for all material covered in class, regardless of whether or not you were present. If you attend and participate in class regularly, you can expect to receive full credit for attendance and participation. Frequent absence and/or lack of participation will reduce the credit you receive for attendance and participation. You are responsible for keeping up with the reading assignments as described in the schedule below.


I expect you to conduct yourself as a professional in this course. Professionalism includes:

  • Respect for and courteous interaction with peers, faculty and facilities;
  • Integrity, which includes at its core honesty, responsibility and accountability for one’s own actions;
  • Sensitivity and appreciation for diverse cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences;
  • Constructive evaluation, which means that criticism is offered and accepted in a productive manner;
  • Self-reflection and identification of one’s own strengths and weaknesses;
  • Responsibility for one’s own education and learning;
  • An attitude that fosters professional behavior in colleagues and peers;
  • Punctuality at meetings and class sessions;
  • Attentive behavior during class sessions, avoiding personal or social use of cell phones, laptops, or other electronic devices;
  • Acknowledgement of the Kinsley Engineering Center as a professional workplace, and treatment of this facility as a business or office space, not as an informal space.

I reserve the right to enforce this code through the York College Code of Student Conduct.

Use of Personal Technology in the Classroom

While York College recognizes students’ need for educational and emergency-related technological devices such as laptops, PDA’s, cellular phones, etc., using them unethically or recreationally during class time is never appropriate. The college recognizes and supports faculty members’ authority to regulate in their classrooms student use of all electronic devices.

Communication Standards

York College recognizes the importance of effective communication in all disciplines and careers. Therefore, students are expected to competently analyze, synthesize, organize, and articulate course material in papers, examinations and presentations. In addition, students should know and use communication skills current to their field of study, recognize the need for revision as part of their writing process, and employ standard conventions of English usage in both writing and speaking. Students may be asked to further revise assignments that do not demonstrate effective use of these communication skills.


This schedule may be subject to minor changes. Any changes will be announced in class and also be posted on the course web page.

Section numbers refer to Essentials of Programming Languages, 3rd ed., except for those labeled TYS, which refer to Teach Yourself Scheme in Fixnum Days

Week Note Topic Reading
Week 1: Aug 30-Sep 2   Preliminaries, Introduction to Scheme Lecture1Notes
Scheme Data Types and Forms Lecture2Notes, TYS ch. 1-3
Week 2: Sep 5-Sep 9   Scheme control, variables, recursion Lecture3Notes, TYS ch. 4-6
Scheme lab  
Week 3: Sep 12-Sep 16   Syntax, Regular Languages/Expressions Lecture4Notes
Finite Automata Lecture5Notes
Week 4: Sep 19-Sep 23   Finite Automata Lecture6Notes
Context-free grammars Lecture7Notes
Week 5: Sep 26-Sep 30   Parsing, ambiguity Lecture8Notes
Recursive descent parsing Lecture9Notes
Week 6: Oct 3-Oct 7   Exam 1  
Turing Machines Lecture10Notes
Week 7: Oct 10-Oct 14   Decidability, Halting Problem Lecture11Notes
Decidability of regular languages Lecture12Notes
Week 8: Oct 17-Oct 21 No class Tues Recursively specified data 1.1, 1.2
Week 9: Oct 24-Oct 28   Deriving recursive programs 1.2, 1.3
Interfaces and data abstraction 2.1, 2.2
Week 10: Oct 31-Nov 4   Interfaces for recursive data types 2.3, 2.4, 2.5
Parsing and simple LET interpreter 3.1, 3.2, Appendix B
Week 11: Nov 7-Nov 11   Procedures and recursive procedures 3.3, 3.4
Scoping and binding of variables 3.5, 3.6, 3.7
Week 12: Nov 14-Nov 18   Explicit references 4.1, 4.2
Implicit references 4.3, 4.4
Week 13: Nov 21-Nov 25 No class Thurs Parameter passing 4.5
Week 14: Nov 28-Dec 2   A continuation-passing interpreter 5.1
A continuation-passing interpreter 5.2, 5.3
Week 15: Dec 5-Dec 9   Exam 2  
Exceptions 5.4
Week 16: Dec 12-Dec 16 No class Thurs