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California State University Stanislaus

CS 4100-01: Programming Languages (WP)

Spring 2023

M W F 3:00 pm - 3:50 pm, Bizinni 214

Instructor: Dr. Megan Thomas

[LMS / App Information]       [Basic Information]       [Announcements]       [Calendar/Assignments]

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

21 Mar 2023 "How many jobs are available in technology in the US?" (Computerworld, 10 Mar 2023)

"Best Tech Careers for 2023" (, 15 Mar 2023)

13 March 2023 At least once in the days between 3/13 and 3/20, write an entry in your Assignment 1 journal that responds to this prompt:

Write about one strength that you have.

Suggestions for strengths you could write about:
I am a good team member.
I learn from my mistakes.
I am an effective leader.
I am able to do meaningful research.
I am always learning how to be a better student.
I help move projects forward.
I am skilled at public speaking.
I am empathetic towards others.
I am a source of good energy.

(Most of list courtesy K. Oehme, Florida State U)

7 Mar 2023 A CS major helpfully found instructions on how to install a VPN for our campus network, which would let you access the CS website from off-campus. See "How do I get access and start using VPN?" here:
Information Security, CSU Stanislaus or skip straight to:
Windows: Global Protect VPN Guide - Windows or
Mac: Global Protect VPN Guide - Mac.

And, just for fun:

"IT jobs in 2023: Look before you leap" (Feb 21, 2023, InfoWorld)

"10 Hardest IT Jobs to Fill" (Mar 1, 2023, InformationWeek)

14 Feb 2023 Computer Languages History site -- including links to lists of 2,000+ or 8,000+ programming languages.
(Sent to me by student DL in Spr 2023)
27 Jan 2023 Career Fair on Wednesday, 3/1, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM, at the Event Center. (Some preparation events before then, to help with resume creation, etc.)
Career Center Events, Spring 2023
23 Jan 2023 "Why Software Developer Is the No. 1 Job of 2023": Software developers are paid well, are in demand and often work on dynamic teams. By Janica Ingram, Jan. 10, 2023
27 Jan 2023 Welcome to CS 4100!

LMS, App Information

Canvas Learning Management System, where some class activities, and paper submissions to will be done.

Document scanning apps for smartphones that past students have recommended: CamScanner, Genius Scan, Adobe Scan. (Note that the professor doesn't care if the apps leave watermarks on your scans, as long as the documents are readable.)

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 "Golden Four" lower division GE courses, 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 the course 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 (or any machine'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 earlier writing 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 20%
Total 100%

(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 (or any machine'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.

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 Recordings

Audio recordings will be made, most days, of the lecture, and will be available via Panopto, in our Canvas web site.

The recordings are only for use of students in Spring 2023 CS 4100, and should not be shared with anyone outside the class.

When in physical classes, 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 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


Services and Support at CSU Stanislaus

Student Health Center
Health Center Building / 209-667-3396 /

Medical care, health education, disease prevention, laboratory testing, physicals, women's and reproductive health, flu shots, immunizations.

Disability Resource Services
Library Annex 24 / 209-667-3159 /

Supports students and arranges accommodations for students with disabilities, including disabilities related to learning, vision, mobility, hearing, autism, or chronic or temporary health factors.

Psychological Counseling Services
Student Services Annex 1 / 209-667-3381 /

Confidential individual personal counseling and group/wellness workshops to help students deal with stress, anxiety, depression, grief, relationships.

Diversity Center
Library Annex 6 and 7 / 209-667-3511 /

Workshops, student space, reading nook, complimentary coffee and tea, social justice library, conference room space.

Undocumented Student Services
Library Annex 6 / 209-667-3519 /

Walk-in advising, workshops, legal services, DACA renewal, scholarships, peer support, family and community engagement.

Academic Success Center
MSR 210 / 209-667-3700 /

Drop-in advising for general education, university requirements, undeclared majors, academic probation, and California Promise.

Learning Commons
Library Annex 14 / 209-667-3642 /

Tutoring (walk-in and regular appointments), supplemental instruction, WPST, writing center.

Career and Professional Development
MSR 230 / 209-667-3661 /

Career coaching, workshops, resume building, business attire, and more.
Schedule of Career Center events

Web Sites for Paper Sources, and Writing Advice

Paper Topic Ideas, Sources

Computer Science & Information Systems from the CSU Stanislaus Library

Lecture Extra Information

Interesting Articles (or podcast episodes) for CS Majors


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