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California State University Stanislaus

CS 4100: Programming Languages (WP)

Spring 2016

MWF 10:00 am - 10:50 am, Bizzini 113

Instructor: Dr. Megan Thomas

[Basic Information]        [Announcements]        [Calendar/Assignments]       [Links]

Welcome to CS 4100, Programming Languages

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the principles of the design, evaluation, and implementation of computer programming languages. As such it is not a crash course to teach you to program in a half dozen new dialects, although you will find learning new languages easier as a result of this study. Our emphasis will be on the kinds of features languages might have, how they influence a programmer's thought process, and how they may be implemented on a computer.

At this level of study, we will find that complex tradeoffs between language principles coupled with a variety of differing goals often can lead designers to radically different design decisions. There seems to be no single "right" way to design a programming language, no single language that is "right" for all applications. You will be asked to explore some of these tradeoffs through a series of writing assignments in which your thought process and ability to balance fairly many aspects of complex issues will often be more important than the conclusions you reach. Because of this subject matter and pedagogical approach, this course meets the University graduation requirement for Writing Proficiency, and you will need to have passed the University Writing Proficiency Screening Test before enrolling.

(The above paragraphs are from Dr. Ray Zarling's CS 4100 course description, with permission.)

Announcements and Upcoming Events

5/12/2016 Reminder: you submit your final paper (to me, and to CS Homework, and) to via a link in our class Blackboard site. Log in to Blackboard, go to the 4100 section, and there should be a 'Final Paper' link in the Assignments area.
5/12/2016 Reminder about how to make a script, when working at a Unix (Mac) terminal window:
% script nameofscriptfile.txt
% clisp
-- at the clisp prompt, type all your correct Lisp code and requested test commands --
-- at the clisp prompt, type: (exit) --
% exit
The exit in ()s exits clisp, the plain exit ends the script program. And at this point the 'script' Unix command will have exited, leaving you with a file named 'nameofscriptfile.txt' you can upload to the CS Homework web site. (Double-check the correctness of the script file contents before you upload, of course.)
is where to find clisp on computer lab machines if it is not on your existing shell path. (Only on Mac side of the dual-boot machines.)
3/5/2016 "Teach Foundational Language Principles" (May 2015) - Here is a link to the article I showed the class a couple weeks ago, wherein you may find paper topic ideas.
3/2/2016 FYI, Barbara Liskov is the 2008 Turing Award winner. (the "Nobel prize of Computer Science") She led the teams that developed a couple of influential, research programming languages, and has also worked in many areas of distributed systems research. She has been a professor at MIT since 1972.
2/9/2016 Top 10 Programming Languages: Spectrum's 2015 Ranking (July 2015)
1/10/2016 Peter Naur, whose accomplishments with programming languages will be a topic we cover in this class, passed away on Jan. 3, 2016.
1/29/2016 Welcome to CS 4100!

Basic Information

Textbook is Principles of Programming Languages: Design, Evaluation, and Implementation (Third Edition), by Bruce J. MacLennan

Instructor: Dr. Megan Thomas
Office: Demergasso-Bava Hall 279

Web Page:

Best way to contact Dr. Thomas:   Email  Please put "CS4100" in the subject line of the email.

Prerequisite: Completion of the Writing Proficiency Screening Test with a passing score, and CS 3100.

Warning: I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus at any time during the term by announcing them in class and on my web page.

Grading and Policies

Final grades will be based on projects and assignments, a term project and exams. A plus and minus grading scale wll be used to assign final grades. Except for designated collaborative activities in connection with the project, all writing and other work you present for credit must be entirely your own, or developed on your own in consultation with the course instructor or other Department faculty. Penalties for representing other people's work as your own will range from No Credit on an assignment through failure of the course and possible University disciplinary action. Over the course of the term we will discuss these issues in more detail, but it is your responsibility to seek clarification and understand the parameters involved. Your work may be electronically checked for plagiarism using

Projects and Assignments:  Homework will usually require you to organize you thoughts about some aspect of the material we are studying, and to write a carefully crafted and thoughtful paper. Some parts of your assignments will be used only for class discussion and not turned in, but usually they will be graded. In aggregate, all homework you turn in will comprise 30% of you final grade. Some of the questions will require problem solving or programming skills, but programming segments or other technical language will generally be in service of some larger point supported by prose arguments. Essays must be prepared on a word processor. Late assignments will be accepted unless you are notified otherwise, but will suffer a grading penalty dependent on the degree of lateness.

Term Project:  In addition to these assignments, you will be required to write a term project. Specific requirements and a timetable will be distributed early in the term. The final draft of the project will be due at the time normally scheduled for the final. It will not be accepted after that time. The project grade will be based upon prewriting activities as well as the final product and will in aggregate count as 30% of your final course grade.

Submission of Projects and Assignments: All projects and assignments (unless otherwise stated) are to be turned as follows:
1. A hard copy is to be turned in at the beginning of class on the due date.
2. An electronic copy is to be uploaded to the CSHomework System ( by midnight on the due date.

Exams: There will be two exams given during the course of the semester, approximately in the sixth and the last weeks of the semester. The exact time of the exams will be announced a week in advance of each exam. Each exam will account for 20% of your final grade.

Grade Summary:
Projects and Assignments
Midterm Exam 20%
Term Project 30%
Final Exam

(The above four paragraphs borrowed liberally from Dr. Ray Zarling's CS 4100 course description, with permission.)

Academic Honesty

The work you do for this course will be your own, unless otherwise specified. You are not to submit other people's work and represent it as your own. I consider academic honesty to be at the core of the University's activities in education and research. Academic honesty is expected at all times in this course.


Regular class attendance is expected; attendance for certain activities will be required. Students are responsible for all announcements and in-class discussion.

In this course we will utilize, an automated system which instructors can use to quickly and easily compare each student's assignment with millions of web sites, as well as an enormous database of student papers that grows with each submission. After the assignment is processed, as instructor, I receive a report from that states if and how another author's work was used in the assignment. For a more detailed look at this process visit

Students will submit assignments to via a link in the class Blackboard site.

Cell Phone Policy

If you attempt to use your cell phone or leave it on during an exam, you will be considered to have finished your test, and I will collect your exam at that time. Exceptions may be made only if you discuss your situation with me prior to the start of that day's class.

Audio / Video Recording Policy

Audio or video recording (or any other form of recording) of classes is not permitted unless expressly allowed by the faculty member as indicated in the course syllabus or as a special accommodation for students who are currently registered with the Disability Resource Services Program and are approved for this accommodation. Recordings allowed as special accommodations are for the personal use of the DRS-approved student, and may only be distributed to other persons who have been approved by the DRS program. Faculty may require the student sign an Audio / Video Recording Agreement, which they may keep for their records.

University Disability Services:

CSU Stanislaus respects all forms of diversity. By university commitment and by law, students with disabilities are entitled to participate in academic activities and to be tested in a manner that accurately assesses their knowledge and skills. They also may qualify for reasonable accommodations that ensure equal access to lectures, labs, films, and other class-related activities. Please see the instructor if you need accommodations for a registered disability. Students can contact the Disability Resource Services office for additional information. The Disability Resource Services website can be accessed at
Phone: (209) 667-3159

University Writing Center

The Writing Center offers free individual and small group tutoring to students from all disciplines and at all levels of proficiency. Dedicated to encouraging dialogue among writers and helping students become successful writers, the Writing Center provides a supportive, judgment-free atmosphere in which tutors share strategies and experiences at each stage of the writing process. Graduate and undergraduate tutors are evolving writers who, through experience and training, continue to develop their abilities as tutors and writers.

The Writing Center website is located at

Phone: Writing Center: (209) 667-3465



(The contents of this web page are borrowed liberally from Dr. Melanie Martin's CS 4100 course description, with permission.)