Compilers in six hours (Stavros Macrakis)
Thu, 12 May 1994 20:08:18 GMT

          From comp.compilers

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Stavros Macrakis)
Keywords: courses
Organization: OSF Research Institute
References: 94-05-018 94-05-028
Date: Thu, 12 May 1994 20:08:18 GMT (Dan Ellard) writes:

      If you had a six hours of lecture time to discuss compilers, what
      would you cover?

How much background do they have in programming language design? In
assembly-language programming? In instruction-set architectures? In
algorithms? In practical programming and debugging using a compiled

Is this part of a "Computers for Poets" course (the old Nat Sci 110 at
Harvard)? Is it an extension school course for Cobol programmers who want
to update their skills? Or is it part of the first course for computer
science majors (the old A.M. 110)?

If it's Computers for Poets, you want to cover compilation vs.
interpretation, the notion of parsing, the notion of static semantics, and
the notion of optimization; maybe also linking. That will probably take
six hours right there. They will have learned that it is not a language,
but an implementation, that is fast or slow, that certain classes of
formal language can be analyzed easily, and that what you see (the source
code) is not what you get (the object code). You can give a series of
homework assignments to compile (say) arithmetic expressions into a
single-register machine with stack.

The students will come away from the course with a clearer idea of what
happens when you execute a program, and with some exposure to the
intellectually interesting notion of parsing a formal language.

I will let others address the other audiences....


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