This course is a survey of programming languages and paradigms. We will focus on the design of programming languages and compare and contrast different language families including imperative, object-oriented, functional, and logic paradigms. Topics include syntax, context-free grammars, parsing, semantics, abstract representations of programming processes and structures, memory management, and exceptions. Students will undertake small programming projects in various languages and more extensive projects in two languages of their choice. Students will present the characteristics of their chosen languages to their peers at the end of the term. More...

Credits 4
Section A
Semester Fall 2019
Date Time, Location MWF 9:00 - 9:50 am,
Davis 117
Instructor Ying Li
Office: Davis 111
Phone: (207)-859-5852
Office hours: MTWR 2:00 - 4:00 pm or by appointment
If the door is open and I'm not already in a meeting, feel free to come in.
Evening TA Rayne Wang
Location: Davis 102
Time: Wednesday 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Prerequisite CS 231 - Data Structures and Algorithms
Course Goals
  1. Students demonstrate an understanding of different language paradigms and implement algorithms in each paradigm.
  2. Students demonstrate an ability to independently learn programming languages.
  3. Students demonstrate an ability to describe the syntax, semantics and functionality of different languages in a common, rigorous manner.
  4. Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between language and design.
  5. Students work with partners to learn one or more languages and present them to the class.
  6. Students present algorithms, languages, and their characteristics in an organized and competently written manner.
  • Weekly Homework: Assigned usually every Wednesday. The deadline is Friday at the beginning of the class.
  • Programming Projects: Assigned usually every Wednesday. The usual deadline is the following Wednesday midnight.
Submission, Late Policy

The homework deadline is a hard deadline. Since we will usually discuss the solution in class, late submission will not be accepted. Homework will be graded in a binary fashion: if you hand in a reasonable attempt before deadline, you get a 1, otherwise a 0.

Please send me your homework via email, and make sure the title of your email follows this format CS333 Fall2019 HW# -- Your Name. (e.g., CS333 Fall2019 HW1 -- Ying Li)

Every project has two parts, one for the C programming language and the other for your selected languages. You are expected to submit all your source codes (C and selected languages) and a README.txt file to the fileserver. You also need to submit a write-up for your selected languages on Wiki. The submission details are described in every project. Please follow the submission instruction to turn in your projects.

Projects are graded based on a 30 point scale. Late projects will receive a maximum score of 26/30, so handing in something on the due date is generally better than handing in a complete assignment late.

As you all have busy schedules, you may have one four-day extension you can use at your discretion over the course of the semester, excepting only the final project. That means you may choose to hand in one project on Friday instead of Monday. Please email Ying to her know you are taking your extension before the deadline.


Everyone will be programming in C and choosing two languages from the following tables (one from List A and one from List A, B, or C).

List A: Imperative and Object-Oriented Languages List B: Functional and Logic Languages List C: Special Purpose Languages

Also, check out the esoteric programming languages like Beatnik, Brainfuck, and Shakespeare.

  • Bi-weekly Quizzes: There will be a 10-15 minute quiz every other Friday. The lowest quiz will be dropped.
  • Final Exam: It will be on Thursday, December 12.
Class Participation You are expected to attend every class. Discussion is a vital part of the learning experience. Good class discussion needs your contribution. If you must miss a class, you are responsible for making up the material covered in that lecture.
Grading The course grade will be determined as follows:
  • Projects: 45%
  • Bi-weekly Quizzes: 20%
  • Final Exam: 20%
  • Weekly Homework: 10%
  • Class Participation: 5%
Text Allen B. Tucker and Robert E. Noonan: Programming Languages: Principles and Paradigms, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2006, ISBN 978-0-07-286609-4.
Collaboration, Academic honesty

Computer science, both academically and professionally, is a collaborative discipline. In any collaboration, however, all parties are expected to make their own contributions and to generously credit the contributions of others. In our class, therefore, collaboration on homework and programming assignments is encouraged, but you as an individual are responsible for understanding all the material in the assignment and doing your own work. Always strive to do your best, give generous credit to others, start early, and seek help early from both your professors and classmates.

The following rules are intended to help you get the most out of your education and to clarify the line between honest and dishonest work. We reserve the right to ask you to verbally explain the reasoning behind any answer or code that you turn in and to modify your project grade based on your answers. It is vitally important that you turn in work that is your own. We do use automated plagiarism detection software, so please be sure to abide by these, rather minimal, rules. Reports of academic dishonesty are handled by an academic review board and a finding of academic dishonesty may result in significant sanctions. For more details on Colby's Academic Integrity policies and procedures, see

  • If you have had a substantive discussion of any homework or programming solution with a classmate, then be sure to cite them in your write-up. If you are unsure of what constitutes "substantive", then ask me or err on the side of caution. As one rule of thumb, if you see more than 10 lines of someone else's code, then you should cite them. You will not be penalized for working together.
  • You must not copy answers or code from another student either by hand or electronically. Another way to think about it is that you should be talking English with one another, not program languages.
The Colby Affirmation

Colby College is a community dedicated to learning and committed to the growth and well-being of all its members.

As a community devoted to intellectual growth, we value academic integrity. We agree to take ownership of our academic work, to submit only work that is our own, to fully acknowledge the research and ideas of others in our work, and to abide by the instructions and regulations governing academic work established by the faculty.

As a community built on respect for ourselves, each other, and our physical environment, we recognize the diversity of people who have gathered here and that genuine inclusivity requires active, honest, and compassionate engagement with one another. We agree to respect each other, to honor community expectations, and to comply with College policies.

As a member of this community, I pledge to hold myself and others accountable to these values. More ...

Title IX Statement

Colby College prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination of any kind. Colby is legally obligated to investigate sexual misconduct (including, but not limited to sexual assault and sexual harassment).

If you wish to speak confidentially about an incident of sexual misconduct, please contact Colby Counseling Services (207-859-4490) or the Director of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Program, Emily Schusterbauer (207-859-4093).

Students should be aware that faculty members are considered responsible employees; as such, if you disclose an incident of sexual misconduct to a faculty member, they have an obligation to report it to Colby's Title IX Coordinator. "Disclosure" may include communication in-person, via email/phone/text, or through class assignments.

To learn more about sexual misconduct or report an incident, visit

© 2019 Ying Li. Page last modified: 08/20/2019