CS345 Programming Languages at University of San Francisco
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.


CS345 Programming Language Paradigms

The University of San Francisco; Catalog entry


Because programming languages are at the core of how we communicate with machines, programmers should have a thorough understanding of how languages are designed, implemented, and manipulated. In this course, students learn to implement the key elements of programming languages such as virtual machine interpreters, type systems, symbol tables, memory allocation, garbage collection, and parsing.

Students also study various programming paradigms such as: object-oriented programming, functional programming, and declarative programming. We will also give threaded programming a thorough treatment.

I expect students to be familiar with C, Java, and Python as we will and implement projects with those languages and also study some of the nooks and crannies of those languages.


CS245 is required background and is critical to the successful completion of the class. Undergraduates will have had Java and some Python (CS110) and C (CS220). Students must be comfortable with:

  • Writing medium-sized programs in Java
  • Small Python programs, classes, objects, functions
  • Core C language syntax, pointers, arrays, structs, functions


ROOM. Lo Schiavo Science 307.

TIME. TR 12:45pm - 2:30pm, January 26 (Tue) - May 12 (Thu).

EXAMS. There will be 2 exams and 1 final exam.

Student evaluation

Artifact Grade Weight Due date
Java REPL 5% Tue, Feb 9
Regex 9% Tue, Feb 23
C declaration to English translator 3% Tue, Mar 8
TypeScript symbol table 11% Thu, Apr 7
Virtual Machine (C) 11% Thu, Apr 28
malloc/free (C) 5%
Participation, Labs and Quizzes 6% sporadic
Exam 1 15% Tue, March 1
Exam 2 15% Thu, April 14
Final exam 20% Thu, May 19 @ 12:30 PM-2:30 PM

Instruction Format

Class periods of 1:45min each 2 times per week for 15 weeks. Instructor-student interaction during lecture is encouraged.


We will make heavy use of Language Implementation Patterns and, to a lessor extent, The ANTLR 4 reference book (free via USF’s “safari online” as part of your tuition. Log in via the USF library site.)

Language Implementation Patterns is cheap at $24 in printed form. (A reminder that using an unpaid-for copy of the electronic version is uncool and violates our academic honesty policy and is illegal.)

Submitting Projects

All projects are due precisely at the start of class on the due date. You do not need, say, two weeks and three minutes. My grading script will pull down the state of your repository at the time class starts.

For each project, I provide you with the complete set of tests your implementation must pass. Passing all tests as specified (i.e., don't modify them) gets you 90%. You get the other 10% after I sign off on your code. If there are changes to be made, I will submit a github pull request with comments inline in your code. Merge the pull request and then respond to each comment by fixing your code. Please remove my comments as you make changes. Please try to submit all of your changes in a single commit beyond the last commit you did for original submission of the project. Once you have fixed the code or if I did not require any changes, I will mark you down as 100%. Please email me when you have submitted your changes. In order for me to get email indicating you've finished, please use @parrt in your commit message or, if you've already committed your finished update, add a comment. For example, finished responding to @parrt review. Be advised that I might require you to make multiple passes over your code to fix things until I'm satisfied. Any required changes must be done prior to submission of your next project or the last day of class, whichever comes first. No code reviews are done on incomplete projects so the maximum would be < 90%.

You must submit each project via github using your account and the repository I've created for you in organization USF-CS345-S16. The repositories are always named userid-projectname. For example, my cdecl project would be parrt-cdecl.

I expect to see proper git commit messages and github usage so I can track your development. Commits must be consistent with developing the software for each project. For example, a single large commit of the entire project at once could be considered circumstantial evidence of academic dishonesty.

Unless you are sick or have a family emergency, I will not change deadlines for projects or exam times. For example, I will not give you a special final exam just because you want to fly home early. Consult the university academic calendar before making travel plans.

Grading standards

I consider an "A" grade to be above and beyond what most students have achieved. A "B" grade is an average grade for a student or what you could call "competence" in a business setting. A "C" grade means that you either did not or could not put forth the effort to achieve competence. An "F" grade implies you did very little work or had great difficulty with the class compared to other students.

Projects must run exactly as specified. To make things easier on you, each Java project has a maven build file and each C project has a CMake built file that automates compilation and testing of projects. Make sure that you do not have hardcoded files/directories in your code, remember that UNIX is case-sensitive as is Java, file names and class names must be correct, specified method signatures must be correct, etc...

Code quality and correctness counts. I've seen projects that had no actual functionality but, instead, tested for the input and simply printed out the right answer. Such projects get a 0.

The maximum score for perfect functionality is 90%. To get the remaining 10%, you must pass my code review per above. Github will notify you of a pull request if I want you to clean your code up.

Projects passing less than all unit tests at the deadline will get a fraction of 90% that represents my estimate of the completed functionality and code quality. No code reviews are done on incomplete projects so the maximum would be < 90%.

I will be very strict and set a high standard in my grading, but I will work hard to help you if you are having trouble. You some of you may not get the grade you were hoping for in this class, but I will do everything I can to make sure you learn a lot and have a satisfying educational experience!

ABOUT ME. My name is Terence Parr and I’m a professor in the computer science department. Please call me Terence or Professor (the use of “Terry” is a capital offense). For more information on me, see http://parrt.cs.usfca.edu.

TARDINESS. Please be on time for class. It is a big distraction if you come in late.

ACADEMIC HONESTY. You must abide by the copyright laws of the United States and academic honesty policies of USF. You may not copy code from other current or previous students. All suspicious activity will be investigated and, if warranted, passed to the Dean of Sciences for action. Copying answers or code from other students or sources during a quiz, exam, or for a project is a violation of the university’s honor code and will be treated as such. Plagiarism consists of copying material from any source and passing off that material as your own original work. Plagiarism is plagiarism: it does not matter if the source being copied is on the Internet, from a book or textbook, or from quizzes or problem sets written up by other students. Giving code or showing code to another student is also considered a violation.

The golden rule: You must never represent another person’s work as your own.

My policy is as follows:

  1. The first observed incident of cheating will result in a zero on the quiz or the assignment (for example). It will be reported to both the CS chair and the CS program assistant for tracking.
  2. The second observed incident of cheating after the initial incident will result in a failing grade for the course.

If you ever have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or academic dishonesty in my course, please feel free to ask me. I’m happy to discuss the issue in a forthright manner.

Note: Leaving your laptop unattended is a common means for another student to take your work. It is your responsibility to guard your work. Do not leave your printouts laying around or in the trash. All persons with common code are likely to be considered at fault.

Official text from USF: As a Jesuit institution committed to cura personalis—the care and education of the whole person—USF has an obligation to embody and foster the values of honesty and integrity. USF upholds the standards of honesty and integrity from all members of the academic community. All students are expected to know and adhere to the University's Honor Code. You can find the full text of the code online.

ON DISABILITIES. If you are a student with a disability or disabling condition, or if you think you may have a disability, please contact USF Student Disability Services (SDS) at 415/422-2613 within the first week of class, or immediately upon onset of the disability, to speak with a disability specialist. If you are determined eligible for reasonable accommodations, please meet with your disability specialist so they can arrange to have your accommodation letter sent to me, and we will discuss your needs for this course. For more information, please visit http://www.usfca.edu/sds/ or call 415/422-2613.



  • Overview of program execution
  • preprocessors
  • lexical, syntactic analysis
  • semantic analysis
  • code gen
  • virtual machines, interpretation
  • Evolution of program languages
  • Categorizing languages
  • general, scripting, DSLs, data languages
  • compiled, interpreted, static/dynamic typing, strong/weak typing

Chapter 1 from Language Implementation Patterns (LIP)

Chapter 2 in ANTLR 4 reference

PART I -- Language recognition

  • Lexical analysis
  • Parsing
    • grammars (CFG, ANTLR)
    • syntax diagrams
    • derivations
    • parse trees
    • ASTs
    • top-down/recursive-descent, bottom-up
    • pushdown machines
    • grammar classes; LL(k), LR(k), ALL(*)
  • Walking trees; listeners, visitors

Chapter 2 on recursive-descent parsers in LIP

Chapter 5 in ANTLR 4 reference on grammar patterns

Parse Trees & ASTs. Section 4, 4.1, 4.2, and Pattern 8 in Language Implementation Patterns

Tree walkers, order. Section 5.1, 5.4, and Pattern 13 in Language Implementation Patterns

Section 2.5 in ANTLR 4 reference on Parse-Tree Listeners and Visitors

Sections 7.2-7.4 Decoupling Grammars from Application-Specific Code in ANTLR 4 reference on Parse tree listeners/visitors.

See grey box titled "Adding fields to nodes via rule arguments and return values" (rougly page 122).

Read chapter 8 in ANTLR 4 ref on building real language applications as it contains examples of how to use listeners and visitors.

PART II -- Semantic analysis

Type systems

  • Common types: boolean, numerics, strings (unicode), aggregates, enums; memory layout
  • Object-oriented semantics
    • classes, instances
    • inheritance, overriding vs overloading
    • interfaces
    • dynamic binding, vtable implementation
  • type checking, equivalence, compatibility
  • type inference

Symbol tables

  • use/def sites (binding/resolution)
  • packages
  • lexical scopes: global, function, local, aggregate
  • imports/uses
  • representing types; type system's effect on name resolution
  • implementation see antlr/symtab repo

Chapter 6 in Language Implementation Patterns (LIP)

(ANTLR 4 ref Section 8.4 has a subsection called a "Crash course in symbol tables" that could also be a useful supplement to Chapter 6 in LIP book.)

Chapter 7 in LIP: structs, classes

Chapter 8 in LIP: type computation, promotion, type checking

PART III -- Virtual Machines

  • tree-based interpreters
  • bytecode machines
    • memory models, constant pools
    • instruction format
    • stack machines
    • register machines
    • function call, args, return values

Watch How to build a virtual machine (video)

Read Chapter 10 in Language implementation patterns. Study the difference between a stack and register machine.

PART IV -- Runtime support

Memory management

  • dynamic memory allocation
    • stack
    • malloc/free
  • automatic garbage collection
    • mark-and-sweep
    • mark-and-compact
    • generational

Concurrency in Java

  • Launching
  • Shared memory model
  • Communication and synchronization
  • Lockless data structures

Advanced language features, paradigms