Languages, Compilers and Interpreters

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Most programmers learn languages, whereas most computer scientists learn about languages.

This gives the computer scientist a distinct advantage over the programmer, even in the domain of programming! Their knowledge generalizes; they are able to understand the operation of a new language more deeply and expeditiously than those who have merely learnt specific languages.

The course is scoped to give software engineers a first look under the covers of popular languages and their implementations. Compared to a typical compilers course, some of the details of compiler design are treated summarily, so as to afford more time building a stronger understanding of the general design of languages and operation of compilers and interpreters.

Projects and exercises

This course has a significant practical component: you will write an interpreter for a simplified version of JavaScript, in your language of choice. Additional exercises are included where helpful, for instance profiling and optimization exercises to better understand existing sophisticated optimizers.

Assumed knowledge

This course assumes confident programming ability in any language. Familiarity with computer architecture is also advantageous.