CS 430: Lecture 2 – Syntax

Dear students, Today we look at the first steps of how a program becomes an executable. The source code that we write is a foreign language to the computer. It must be translated into a language that the machine does know. That’s the job of the compiler or interpreter. Translation is a process with multiple […]

CS 430 – Programming Languages


CS 430: Lecture 1 – Programming Languages

Dear students, Welcome to CS 430: Programming Languages! What’s this class about? Well, imagine you are a biology student taking a course on mammals and every lecture, lab, and homework is on cows. You wouldn’t really be a biologist at the end of the course. You’d be a cowist. A cow gives you one picture […]

From * To Javascript

Educators must contend with students’ prior knowledge of a subject. Sometimes the prior knowledge is advantageous—but not always. What we “know” may be wrong or incomplete. The same is true with programming languages. When learning a new language, you must contend with the baggage you bring from other languages you know. Suppose you are C […]

No Ternary, No Problem

While waiting around in a Peruvian airport, a friend I met at a conference was playing a boolean logic game I’ve been working on. On one level he wanted to use a ternary operator to model a shape that behaved differently depending on which half of the 10-by-10 game board you were on. He wanted […]

Precedence vs. Evaluation Order

I’ve been working on a little computer science learning game called Rator Vaders. Complex expressions drop from the sky, and the player has to fire at the highest precedent operator and evaluate it. This process continues until only a literal value is left, which can be sent to the Big Bit Bucket in the Sky […]

Identifiers Starting with Numbers

I was skimming through an introduction to a new programming language and ran across the familiar rule that identifiers in this language must start with a letter or underscore. Because I’ve been feeling a bit subversive lately, I wondered what would happen if this rule went away? What if identifiers could start with a number? […]