CSIS 420 Structures of Programming Languages

Course Description

A study of the basic design of computer programming languages, with greater emphasis placed on semantics (over syntax). A comparative analysis is made among several of the common languages.


Brian R. Snider
Office hours: Wood-Mar 223 (see schedule)





Students will:

Course Organization

This course will consist primarily of lectures, in-class presentations, homework assignments, and hands-on experience with one or more new and novel programming languages. This course will include an on-going programming language project. This project will require students to acquire in-depth knowledge about a chosen, unfamiliar (to them) programming language, along with minimal programming competence in their chosen language. The project will include both a written report and an in-class presentation.

The course will include regular homework and/or programming assignments. There will be no credit given for late assignments (without an excused absence)—turn in as much as you can. Unless otherwise specified, no handwritten work will be accepted.

Reading should be completed before the lecture covering the material per the provided schedule. Not all reading material will be covered in the lectures, but you will be responsible for the material on homework and exams. Quizzes over the assigned reading may be given at any time.

Collaboration and Academic Integrity

See the GFU CS/IS/Cyber policies for collaboration and discussion of collaboration and academic integrity. Most students would be surprised at how easy it is to detect collaboration or other academic integrity violations such as plagiarism in programming—please do not test us! Remember: you always have willing and legal collaborators in the faculty. We encourage you to ask questions in class, ask for help in the CS lab, use the class mailing list, and visit office hours for assistance.

Unless otherwise specified (e.g., for a group assignment or project), you are expected to do your own work. This also applies to the use of online resources (e.g., StackOverflow, ChatGPT). Put simply: if you are representing someone else's work as your own, you are being dishonest. Any suspected incidents of academic integrity violations will be investigated and reported to the Academic Affairs Office as they arise.

Almost all of life is filled with collaboration (i.e., people working together). Yet in our academic system, we artificially limit collaboration. These limits are designed to force you to learn fundamental principles and build specific skills. It is very artificial, and you'll find that collaboration is a valuable skill in the working world. While some of you may be tempted to collaborate too much, others will collaborate too little. When appropriate, it's a good idea to make use of others—the purpose here is to learn. Be sure to make the most of this opportunity but do it earnestly and with integrity.

University Resources

Accessibility and Disability

If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accommodations, please contact Disability & Accessibility Services (DAS) as early as possible so that your learning needs can be appropriately met. For more information, go to georgefox.edu/das or contact das@georgefox.edu).

My desire as a professor is for this course to be welcoming to, accessible to, and usable by everyone, including students who are English-language learners, have a variety of learning styles, have disabilities, or are new to online learning systems. Be sure to let me know immediately if you encounter a required element or resource in the course that is not accessible to you. Also, let me know of changes I can make to the course so that it is more welcoming to, accessible to, or usable by students who take this course in the future.

Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) on the Newberg campus provides all undergraduate students with free writing consultation, academic coaching, and learning strategy review (e.g., techniques to improve reading, note-taking, study, time management). The ARC offers in-person appointments; if necessary, Zoom appointments can be arranged by request. The ARC, located on the first floor of the Murdock Library, is open from 1:00–10:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 12:00–4:00 p.m. on Friday. To schedule an appointment, go to the online schedule at traccloud.georgefox.edu, call 503-554-2327, email the_arc@georgefox.edu, or stop by the ARC. Visit arc.georgefox.edu for information about ARC Consultants' areas of study, instructions for scheduling an appointment, learning tips, and a list of other tutoring options on campus.

Student Support Network

George Fox University uses a robust referral and support system, Fox360, to learn about students who are experiencing various student success concerns. Students who are referred by a professor, other employee, or fellow student will be contacted by a member of our Student Support Network to explore the student's situation, develop a plan, and connect with relevant campus resources. GFU community members who have a concern about a student's well-being can submit an aleart by going to fox360.georgefox.edu. Our goal is to provide 360° care for students as they navigate their college experience. For more information see ssn.georgefox.edu or contact Rick Muthiah, Director of Learning Support Services.

Health and Safety Considerations

Please review the entirety of the university's official COVID-19 web page for the most up-to-date community guidance.


Grading Scale

The final course grade will be based on:

Tentative Schedule

Week 1 · 1/14


Reading: Ch. 1.1–1.3

Week 1 · 1/16

Design & Implementation


Week 1 · 1/18

Early Languages

Reading: 2.1–2.9

Week 2 · 1/21

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — no class

Week 2 · 1/23

Designed Languages

Reading: Ch. 2.10–2.14

Week 2 · 1/25

Modern Paradigms

Reading: Ch. 2.15–2.20

Week 3 · 1/28

Describing Syntax

Reading: Ch. 3.1–3.3

Week 3 · 1/30

Grammars & Semantics

Reading: Ch. 3.4–3.5

Week 3 · 2/1

Lexical Analysis

Reading: Ch. 4.1–4.2

Week 4 · 2/4


Ch. 4.3–4.4;
skim 4.5

Week 4 · 2/6

Names & Variables

Reading: Ch. 5.1–5.4

Week 4 · 2/8


Reading: Ch. 5.5–5.8

Week 5 · 2/11

Primitive Types

Reading: Ch. 6.1–6.4

Week 5 · 2/13


Reading: Ch. 6.5–6.6

Week 5 · 2/15


Reading: Ch. 6.7–6.10

Week 6 · 2/18

Pointers & References

Reading: Ch. 6.11

Week 6 · 2/20

Type Checking

Reading: Ch. 6.12–6.15

Week 6 · 2/22

Arithmetic Expressions

Reading: Ch. 7.1–7.4

Week 7 · 2/25

Boolean Expressions & Assignment

Reading: Ch. 7.5–7.8

Week 7 · 2/27

Sequential & Conditional Flow

Reading: Ch. 8.1–8.2

Week 7 · 3/1


Reading: Ch. 8.3–8.6

Week 8 · 3/4


Reading: Ch. 9.1–9.4

Week 8 · 3/6

Parameter-Passing Mechanisms

Reading: Ch. 9.5–9.6

Week 8 · 3/8


Reading: Ch. 9.7–9.9

Week 9 · 3/11

Advanced Subprogram Concepts

Reading: Ch. 9.10–9.13

Week 9 · 3/13

Midterm exam

Reading: Ch. 1–9

Week 9 · 3/15

Blocks & Dynamic Scope

Reading: Ch. 10.4–10.6

Week 10 · 3/18

Data Abstraction

Reading: Ch. 11.1–11.4

Week 10 · 3/20

Data Encapsulation

Reading: Ch. 11.5–11.7

Week 10 · 3/22

Object-Oriented Languages

Reading: Ch. 12

Week 11 · 3/25–3/29

Spring break — no class

Week 12 · 4/1


Ch. 12.4;

Week 12 · 4/3


Reading: Ch. 13

Week 12 · 4/5

Exception & Event Handling

Ch. 14;
C Signal Handling

Week 13 · 4/8–4/12

Functional Languages

Reading: Ch. 15

Week 14 · 4/15–4/19

Logic Languages

Reading: Ch. 16

Week 15 · 4/22–4/26

Presentations & Review

Week 16 · TBD

Final exam

Reading: *

This page was last modified on 2020-07-30 at 18:28:28.

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