CATALOG DESCRIPTION:  This course introduces students to the key features of programming languages. Students implement a series of interpreters that nail down the precise details of how various aspects of programming languages behave.  Students are assumed to understand trees and (mathematical) functions that process them; the course builds up to the features of real programming languages from there.

 REQUIRED TEXT: Programming Languages: Application and Interpretation by Shriram Krishnamurthi


PREREQUISITES: EECS 214, EECS 111 or Graduate standing

COURSE TOPICS: The course explores these aspects of a programming language (in this order):

  • - Modeling programming languages
  • - Arithmetic expressions & variables
  • - Functions
  • - Deferring substitution
  • - First class functions
  • - (implementing) Recursion
  • - State
  • - Garbage collection
  • - Types

GRADES: Grades are based on weekly homework assignments.

EXAM: There is no exam in this course.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Students that complete this course should:

  • understand the basic semantic features of all call-by-value programming languages (which includes nearly all programming languages they will encounter),
  • understand the pragmatics behind those features (when to use them and why),
  • understand some of the more advanced features, when they are applicable, and when they are desireable,
  • be able to maintain and extend an interpreter-based implementation of a programming language containing those features


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