CS 6371: Advanced Programming Languages

Course Information

Title: CS 6371: Advanced Programming Languages
Course Registration Number: 14355
Times: MW 4:00-5:15
Location: ECSS 2.311
Instructor: Dr. Kevin Hamlen (hamlen AT utdallas)
Instructor's Office Hours: ECSS 3.704, Wed 2:00-4:00
Teaching Assistant: Meera Sridhar (mxs072100 AT utdallas)
TA's Office Hours: ECSS 3.403, Tue 11:30-1:30

Course Summary

This course will cover functional and logic programming, concepts of programming language design, and formal reasoning about programs and programming languages. The following are the course learning objectives:

  1. Functional Programming (ML/OCaml)
  2. Small-step and large-step operational semantics
  3. Denotational semantics
  4. Fixpoints, fixpoint induction
  5. Axiomatic semantics
  6. Type theory
  7. Untyped and simply typed lambda calculus
  8. Partial evaluation, non-determinism
  9. Logic programming

Through taking this course, students will learn the tradeoffs of imperative vs. non-imperative programming languages, issues involved in designing a programming language, the role of formal semantics and type-systems in reasoning about programs and languages, and proof techniques related to programming language design.

The course is open to Ph.D. students and Masters students. Interested undergraduates should see the instructor for permission to take the course.

Prerequisites: Discrete Structures (CS 3305/5333 or equivalent), Algorithm Analysis and Data Structures (CS 3345/5343 or equivalent), Automata Theory (CS 4384/5349 or equivalent). A solid background in all three of these areas will be heavily assumed throughout the course!

To Prepare for the Course...

Although the early course lectures will include a brief survey of the OCaml programming language, students will be expected to learn most of OCaml on their own. Therefore, if you want to get a head start, I recommend downloading and installing OCaml, and walking yourself through some of the many online tutorial examples:

Using OCaml from the UTD Server

If you can't get OCaml to work on your personal machine, you can use OCaml on the UTD CS Dept. Linux servers. To do so:

OCaml is available on any of the following CS servers: cslinux2.utdallas.edu, cscomp.utdallas.edu, cscomp1.utdallas.edu, cscomp2.utdallas.edu, cscomp3.utdallas.edu. When connecting from off-campus, ssh to cs1.utdallas.edu or cs2.utdallas.edu first, and then ssh to one of the other machines from there.

An Alternate Build of OCamlWinPlus 3.10.0

If you are having trouble with crashes when using OCaml on Windows in interactive mode, try downloading the following binary:

This is a version of the interactive shell that I re-built from sources. It doesn't seem to crash for me when I tested it. You must have OCaml already installed on your machine to use it. (If you try this version and it crashes for you, please let me know.)


Homework (40%): Homeworks will be assigned approximately once per 1.5 weeks, and will consist of a mix of programming assignments and written assignments. All programming assignments will be done in Ocaml or Prolog. Written assignments will typically involve discrete math proofs. Homeworks must be turned in at the start of class (i.e., by 4:15pm) on the due date. No late homeworks will be accepted.

Midterm (25%): There will be an in-class midterm exam on Monday, October 1st. The exam will cover functional programming, operational semantics, denotational semantics, and fixpoints.

Final (35%): The final exam for the course is scheduled for 2:00pm Friday, November 30. The exam will be cumulative, covering all material in the course. Students will have 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete it.


The course has no required textbook, but we will make use of several online references:

Homework Materials

Tentative Course Schedule

Date Topic Assignments
Functional Programming with OCaml Pre-assignment: Download and install OCaml. Compile and execute the Fibonacci example
Lecture 1:
Mon 8/20
Course Introduction: Functional vs. Imperative programming, Type-safe languages, intro to OCaml
Lecture notes
Lecture 2:
Wed 8/22
OCaml: Parametric Polymorphism
Lecture notes
Assignment 1 due
(Ocaml intro)
Lecture 3:
Mon 8/27
OCaml: List folding, tail recursion, standard libraries, exception-handling
Lecture notes
Operational Semantics
Lecture 4:
Wed 8/29
Large-step Semantics: Part I
Slides in PDF form
Assignment 2 due
(IMP Interpreter)
Mon 9/3 No Class (Labor Day)
Lecture 5:
Wed 9/5
Large-step Semantics: Part II
Lecture Notes
Lecture 6:
Mon 9/10
Small-step Semantics
Lecture Notes: See section 3.3 of Assignment 3 and chapter 2.6 of Winskel
Assignment 3 due
(Operational Semantics)
Denotational Semantics
Lecture 7:
Wed 9/12
Denotational Semantics: Part I
Lecture Notes
Lecture 8:
Mon 9/17
Denotational Semantics: Part II
(same lecture notes as previous lecture)
Lecture 9:
Wed 9/19
Lecture Notes on Fixed-point Induction
Lecture Notes on CPO's
Assignment 4 due
Lecture 10:
Mon 9/24
Equivalence of Operational and Denotational Semantics
Lecture Notes: See chapter 5.3 of Winskel
Lecture 11:
Wed 9/26
Midterm Review
Sample Midterm Exam
Mon 10/1
Midterm Exam
Midterm Exam
Type Theory
Lecture 12:
Wed 10/3
Type Theory: Introduction
Lecture Notes: See section 5.3 of Assignment 5
Assignment 5 due
(IMP Type-checker)
Lecture 13:
Mon 10/8
Type Theory: Progress & Subject Reduction
Lecture Notes
Lecture 14:
Wed 10/10
Type theory: Progress & Subject Reduction
Lecture 15:
Mon 10/15
Type theory: Type Systems for Program Analysis
Lambda Calculus
Lecture 16:
Wed 10/17
Untyped Lambda Calculus: Part I
Lecture notes: See section 3 of Assignment 6
Assignment 6 due
(Lambda calculus)
Lecture 17:
Mon 10/22
Untyped Lambda Calculus: Part II
Lecture 18:
Wed 10/24
Simply Typed Lambda Calculus
Lecture 19:
Mon 10/29
Polymorphic Lambda Calculus: Type-unification, Curry-Howard Isomorphism Assignment 7 due
(Functional IMP)
Lecture 20:
Wed 10/31
Functions: Call-by-value, Call-by-Reference, Call-by-Name, Call-by-Need
Formal Verification of Programs
Lecture 21:
Mon 11/5
Axiomatic Semantics: Part I
Lecture Notes
C. A. R. Hoare. An axiomatic basis for computer programming. Communications of the ACM, 12(10):576-580 and 583, October 1969.
Lecture 22:
Wed 11/7
Axiomatic Semantics: Part II
Lecture Notes
Assignment 8 due
(Hoare Logic)
Logic Programming in Prolog
Lecture 23:
Mon 11/12
Logic Programming: Part I
Guest Lecturer: Srividya Kona
Lecture Notes
Lecture 24:
Wed 11/14
Logic Programming: Part II
Lecture Notes
Assignment 9 due
Lecture 25:
Mon 11/19
Logic Programming: Part III
Lecture Notes
Lecture 26:
Wed 11/21
Course Evaluations
Final Review
Sample Final Exam
Lecture 27:
Mon 11/26
Final Review (continued)
Fri 11/30
Final Exam