Bryn Mawr College
CMSC 245 Principles of Programming Languages
Fall 2020
Course Materials
Prof. Deepak Kumar

General Information

Deepak Kumar
202 Park Science Building
dkumar at brynmawr dot edu

Lecture Hours: Mondays & Thursdays from 9:40a to 11:00a
Office Hours: Thursdays from 11:10 to 12:30p via Zoom. Meeting ID: 973 0477 6657 (ask me for password)
Lecture Room: Room 300 Park Science Building (Tentative) This is remote-only class.
Lab: All Labs will be remote.



Texts & Software

Main Text (Required): Programming Language Pragmatics (Fourth Edition) by Michael Scott. Morgan-Kaufmann 2015. Available in Campus Bookstore, or purchase online from (Price on August 19, 2020 is $56.79 for e-text, $68.55 paperback).

Software: We will use several programming language compilers/interpreters in this course. Some of them will be installed on our Linux servers accessible through Lab computers. You are also welcome to install these on your own computers as the need arises. Other than language compilers, we will be using these tools: Visual Studio Code (VS Code), Piazza, Zoom.

Class Piazza: Click here to go to class Piazza.


Course Description: An introduction to the study of programming languages. Where do programming languages come from and how do they evolve? And why should a programmer choose one over another? This course explores these topics by covering several different programming language features and paradigms, including object-oriented, functional, and dynamic. It also looks at the history and future of programming languages by studying the active development of several real-world languages. Students will explore several programming languages by writing code in those languages. Prerequisite: CMSC B206 or H106 or H107 and CMSC B231 Spaces 20; [Note: These limits have changed for in-person classes and are dictated by allotted classroom spaces.]


  1. Language implementation models: Compilers and interpreters
  2. Names, Scopes, and Bindings
  3. Control Flow: Sequencing, selection, repetition, recursion
  4. Data Types: Type systems, type checking, structures, arrays, strings, pointers, lists, files
  5. Control Abstraction: subroutines/functions, parameter passing, exception handling, coroutines, events
  6. Data Abstraction: objects, object-oriented programming

Important Dates

August 31: Week 0 Session
September 10: First class meeting
October 8: Exam 1
November 12: Exam 2
December 10: Exam 3 [This may change]

Creating a Welcoming Environment

All members of the Instruction Staff are dedicated to the cause of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of computing, and to supporting the wellness and mental health of our students.

Diversity and Inclusion

It is essential that all members of the course community – the instructor, TAs, and students – work together to create a supportive, inclusive environment that welcomes all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. All participants in this course deserve to and should expect to be treated with respect by other members of the community.

Class meetings, lab sessions, office hours, and group working time should be spaces where everyone feels welcome and included. In order to foster a welcoming environment, students of this course are expected to: exercise consideration and respect in their speech and actions; attempt collaboration and consideration, including listening to opposing perspectives and authentically and respectfully raising concerns, before conflict; refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech.


Additionally, your mental health and wellness are of utmost importance to the course Instruction Staff, if not the College as a whole. All members of the instruction staff will be happy to chat or just to listen if you need someone to talk to, even if it’s not specifically about this course.

If you or someone you know is in distress and urgently needs to speak with someone, please do not hesitate to contact BMC Counseling Serices: 610-526-7360 (610-526-7778 nights and weekends). If you are uncomfortable reaching out to Counseling Services, any member of the Instruction Staff will be happy to contact them on your behalf.

We understand that student life can be extremely difficult, both mentally and emotionally. If you are living with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, or other conditions that may affect you this semester, you are encouraged to discuss these with the Instructor. Although the details are up to you to disclose, the Instruction Staff will do their best to support and accommodate you in order to ensure that you can succeed this course while staying healthy.


  1. Assignment#1: (Due in Dropbox before start of class on Monday, September 14): Chapter 1 of Scott lists several programming languages. Can you count them and list them? What is your favorite programming language that you know? Why? Write up a short essay/note (1-2 pages) containing your "count", answers to these questions, comments on the readings. Hand in a printed version at the start of class on September 14.
  2. Assignment#2: (Due in Dropbox before start of class on Monday, September 21): Write a short (1-page) summary of the programming language assigned to you. You will make a 2-minute presentation on this to the class on Monday, September 21. Each group can designate a speaker for this one. The 1-page summary should be the result of work by all members of the group. Please use the scheduled Lab time (or a time outside of that) to get together for discuss the language. Others in the group will do subsequent presentations.
  3. Assignment#3 (Due in Dropbox before start of class on Monday, October 26): Write a report that summarizes the built-in types, variables, and control structures in the programming language assigned to you. This should be the result of work by all members of the group. Please use the scheduled Lab time (or a time outside of that) to get together for discuss the language. Each group should designate a new presenter for this one. Only ONE person should do the presentation.
  4. Assignment#4 (This is for self-study. Not required to submit anything.): It is included on the last page of Lab#4.
  5. Assignment#5 (Due in Dropbox before start of class on Thursday, December 3): Write a final report summarizing the programming language assigned to you. Build on the previous presentations. Focus on subroutines and parameter passing, exception handling, and data abstraction.
  6. etc.


Course Policies


Attendance and active participation are expected in every class. Participation includes asking questions, contributing answers, proposing ideas, and providing constructive comments.

As you will discover, we are proponents of two-way communication and we welcome feedback during the semester about the course. We are available to answer student questions, listen to concerns, and talk about any course-related topic (or otherwise!). Come to office hours! This helps us get to know you. You are welcome to stop by and chat. There are many more exciting topics to talk about that we won't have time to cover in-class.

Although computer science work can be intense and solitary, please stay in touch with us, particularly if you feel stuck on a topic or project and can't figure out how to proceed. Often a quick e-mail, phone call or face-to-face conference can reveal solutions to problems and generate renewed creative and scholarly energy. It is essential that you begin assignments early, since we will be covering a variety of challenging topics in this course.


There will be 5-7 assignments (both written and in-class presentations), weighted equally in the final grading.  Assignments must be submitted according to the Assignment Submission instructions. 

All graded work will receive a grade: 4.0, 3.7, 3.3, 3.0, 2.7, 2.3, 2.0, 1.7, 1.3, 1.0, or 0.0. At the end of the semester, final grades will be calculated as a weighted average of all grades according to the following weights:

Eaxm 1: 15%
Eaxm 2: 20%
Exam 3 20%
Assignments 25%
Labs 10%
Citizenship/Contribution 10%

Incomplete grades will be given only for verifiable medical illness or other such dire circumstances.

Submission and Late Policy

All work must be turned in electronically in your designated Dropbox Folder. We will set up this up in Week#1.

No assignment will be accepted after it is past due.

No past work can be "made up" after it is due.

No regrade requests will be entertained one week after the graded work is returned in class.

Any extensions will be given only in the case of verifiable medical excuses or other such dire circumstances, if requested in advance and supported by your Academic Dean.


There will be three exams in this course.  The exams will be closed-book and closed-notes.  The exams will cover material from lectures, homeworks, and assigned readings (including topics not discussed in class).

Study Groups

We encourage you to discuss the material and work together to understand it. Here are our thoughts on collaborating with other students:

If you have any questions as to what types of collaborations are allowed, please feel free to ask.

Created on August 19, 2020.