CSI 3120
Programming Language Concepts


Design and evaluation criteria for programming languages. Introduction to syntactic and semantic description of programming languages. Basics of programming language implementation. Scripting languages. A comparison of design choices across programming paradigms: data objects, data types, control structures, sub-programs. Basics of concurrency.


CSI2101, CSI2120.


Present the fundamental issues in the design and use of major programming languages. Recall or introduce a few important programming languages with a difference. Discuss elements of technology around programming language implementation. Prepare you for further study of programming languages, help develop an appreciation of a programming language as a tool for software construction, enable you to evaluate and choose a language to match the problem. See the list of Topics, below, for a bit more detail.


Dr. Nathalie Japkowicz
E-mail: nat@site.uottawa.ca

Office: STE 5-029,

Office Hours:
Mondays 11:30am-1:30pm

Meeting Times and Locations:

         Monday, 4:00pm-5:30pm, STE C0136

         Wednesday, 2:30-4:00pm, STE C0136


Parinaz Sobhani
Laboratories' Website: Available from Blackboard

Labs and Locations:

         Friday, 8:30am-10am, STE 0130


Robert W. Sebesta, Concepts of Programming Languages, 10th ed., Addison-Wesley, 2012. Available from the University Bookstore.


Assignments and Exams:

Assignments :

Tentative Topics



Preliminaries; Histoiry; Scheme, Prolog

Sep. 18 - Oct. 2

Grammars; Axiomatic Semantic; Syntactic Analysis

Oct. 2 - Oct. 30

7.5 points]

Oct. 30 - Nov. 13

R; Design Issues
7.5 points]

Nov. 13 - Dec. 2

Assignment 2 will be written. Assignment 3 will be a strictly programming assignment. Assignments 1 and 4 will be a mixture of the two. The method of handing in your code will be determined, and announced, later. Late work will receive a 10% penalty for weekdays and a 5% penalty for weekends and holidays.


There will be two exams: a midterm exam and a final exam.

The midterm will cover topics 1-6 (see, below), plus some background knowledge, including Prolog and Scheme. You are expected to write the midterm. There will be no make-up. If you have a valid medical reason to have missed the midterm, confirmed by the official University health services, I will add the weight of the midterm to the final exam's weight. The final exam will cover all material, with a slight emphasis on topics 7-11.

         Midtern Exam---------- October 22 (in class)

         Final Exam-------------- TBA


We begin with an overview of the course and a review of the assumed background knowledge (read chapters 15 and 16 to refresh your Scheme and Prolog skills).

******* Class notes and assignments are available
HERE *******

1.      Criteria, classification, applications
(chapter 1)

2.      Review of Scheme and Prolog
(chapters 15-16)

3.      Evolution of the major programming languages
(chapter 2, mostly a reading assignment).

4.      Describing the syntax of programming languages
(sections 3.1-3.3)

5.      Describing the semantics of programming languages
(section 3.5.2)

6.      Syntactic analysis, parsing
(sections 4.4.2 and 4.5)

7.      An introduction to Perl
(handouts, and lots of material on the Web, starting with the principal
Perl site)

8.      An introduction to R
(graduated examples and material on the Web, starting with the principal R site)

9.      Names, bindings, type checking, and scopes; data types; expressions and the assignment statement; statement-level control structures; subprograms (it is actually a megatopic -:)
(chapters 5-9)

10.  Implementing subprograms
(sections 10.1-10.4)

11.  Concurrency
(sections 13.1-5, 13.7)

Course Schedule:



Topic Numbers


September 3

Welcome, Preliminaries

September 8-10


September 15-17


September 22-24


September 29 - October 1


October 6-8


October 13-15


October 20-22


October 27-29


November 3-5


November 10-12


November 17-19


November 24-26


December 1

1, 2


2, 3










Midterm Review, MIDTERM




7, 8


8, 9




10, 11


Final Review


Chapters 1, 15 & 16


Chapter 15, 16 & 2


Chapter 3 (Sections 3.1-3.3)


Chapter 3 (Section 3.5.2)


Chapter 4 (Sections 4.4.2 and 4.5)










Handouts, Chapters 5-9


Chapters 5-9


Chapter 10 (Sections 10.1-4)

Chapter 13 (Sections 13.1-5, 13.7)