CS 6371: Advanced Programming Languages

Course Information

Title: CS 6371: Advanced Programming Languages
Course Registration Number: 21902
Times: TR 1:00–2:15
Location: CB3 1.308
Instructor: Dr. Kevin Hamlen (hamlen AT utdallas)
Instructor's Office Hours: TR 2:15-3:15 in ECSS 3.704
Teaching Assistant: Farhad Shakerin
TA's Office Hours: W 1:00–3:00

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. Logic programming (Prolog)
  3. Small-step and large-step operational semantics
  4. Denotational semantics
  5. Fixpoints, fixpoint induction
  6. Axiomatic semantics
  7. Type theory
  8. Untyped and typed lambda calculi
  9. Partial evaluation, non-determinism

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 formal, high-assurance software validation.

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...

STUDENTS MUST ATTEND AT LEAST ONE OF THE FIRST THREE CLASSES. IF YOU MISS MORE THAN TWO OF THE FIRST THREE CLASSES (other than for excused absences—see below) THEN YOUR FINAL COURSE GRADE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE REDUCED BY ONE FULL LETTER GRADE. The first three classes will cover functional programming in the OCaml programming language, which will be the basis for most of the rest of the course. Documented absences approved by university policy are exempted from this attendance requirement. These include illness with an accompanying doctor's note, and observance of religious holy days.

To better understand the in-class OCaml demos, you should do the following as preparation:

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 Department Linux servers. To do so:

Using Prolog from the UTD Server

You can install your own local version of SWI Prolog or you can access the version installed on the UTD linux servers as follows:


Homework (25%): Homeworks will be assigned approximately once per 1.5 weeks, and will consist of a mix of programming assignments and written assignments. Programming assignments will be implemented in OCaml, Prolog, or possibly Coq. Written assignments will typically involve discrete math proofs. Homeworks must be turned in at the start of class (i.e., by 1:05pm) on the due date. To help students prepare for the next assignment, homework solutions will typically be revealed on each due date. Therefore, no late homeworks will be accepted.

Quizzes (15%): On indicated assignment due dates (see the course schedule below), students will solve one or two problems individually at the start of class as a quiz. The quiz problems are essentially extra homework problems solved individually in class without the help of the internet or collaboration with other students. The quizzes will be closed-book and closed-notes.

Midterm (25%): There will be an in-class midterm exam in class on Thursday, March 2nd. The exam will cover functional programming, operational semantics, denotational semantics, and fixpoints.

Final (35%): A final exam for the course will be given on Thursday, May 4th at 2:00pm. The exam will be cumulative, covering all material in the course. Students will have 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete it.

Homework Policy

Students may work individually or together with other students presently enrolled in the class to complete the assignments, but they must CITE ALL COLLABORATORS AND ANY OTHER SOURCES OF MATERIAL that they consulted, even if those sources weren't copied word-for-word. Copying or paraphrasing someone else's work without citing it is plagiarism, and may result in severe penalties such as an immediate failing grade for the course and/or expulsion from the computer science program. Therefore, please cite all sources!

Students may NOT consult solution sets from previous semesters of this course, or collaborate with students who have such solutions. These sources are off-limits because such "collaborations" tend to involve simply copying or reverse-engineering someone else's answer to a similar homework problem, which does not prepare you for the quizzes and exams.


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

Tentative Course Schedule

Date Topic Assignments
Functional Programming
Lecture 1:
Tue 1/10
Course Introduction: Functional vs. Imperative programming, type-safe languages, intro to OCaml
Lecture slides
OCaml transcript
Assignment 1 due 1/19
(OCaml Intro)
Lecture 2:
Thu 1/12
OCaml: Parametric polymorphism
Lecture slides
OCaml transcript
Lecture 3:
Tue 1/17
OCaml: List folding, tail recursion, exception-handling
Lecture slides
OCaml transcript
Operational Semantics
Lecture 4:
Thu 1/19
Large-step Semantics: Intro
(See last page of Assignment 2 for notes.)
Assignment 2 due 1/26
(SIMPL Interpreter)
Lecture 5:
Tue 1/24
Large-step Semantics: Proof techniques
Lecture Notes
Lecture 6:
Thu 1/26
Small-step Semantics
Lecture Notes
Quiz 1: Functional Programming
Assignment 3 due 2/7
(Operational Semantics)
Denotational Semantics
Lecture 7:
Tue 1/31
Denotational Semantics: Semantic domains and valuation functions
Lecture Notes
Lecture 8:
Thu 2/2
Denotational Semantics: Fixed points and Complete Partial Orders
Lecture Notes
Lecture 9:
Tue 2/7
Fixed-point Induction
Lecture Notes
Quiz 2: Operational Semantics
Assignment 4 due 2/16
Lecture 10:
Thu 2/9
Fixpoint Induction and Semantic Equivalence
Lecture Notes
Lecture 11:
Tue 2/14
Semantic Equivalence (continued)
Coq Proof of Semantic Equivalence
Type Theory
Lecture 12:
Thu 2/16
Type Theory: Introduction
(See reference section of Assignment 5 for notes.)
Quiz 3: Denotational Semantics
Assignment 5 due 3/9
(SIMPL Type-checker)
Lecture 13:
Tue 2/21
Type Theory: Soundness
Lecture Notes
Coq Proof
Lecture 14:
Thu 2/23
Type Theory: Type-based Information Flow Security
Lecture 15:
Tue 2/28
Midterm Review
Sample midterm exam with solutions
Thu 3/2
Midterm Exam
Untyped Lambda Calculus
Lecture 16:
Tue 3/7
Untyped Lambda Calculus
(See Assignment 6 reference section for notes.)
Lecture 17:
Thu 3/9
Untyped Lambda Calculus: Encodings and reductions
(See Assignment 6 reference section for notes.)
Quiz 4: Type Theory
Assignment 6 due 3/23
(Lambda calculus)
No Class:
Tue 3/14
No class: Spring break
No Class:
Thu 3/16
No class: Spring break
Typed Lambda Calculus
Lecture 18:
Tue 3/21
Simply-typed Lambda Calculus
Lecture Notes
Lecture 19:
Thu 3/23
System F
Lecture Notes
Quiz 5: Lambda Calculus
Assignment 7 due 4/6
(Functional SIMPL)
Lecture 20:
Tue 3/28
System F: Curry-Howard isomorphism, Hindley-Milner Type Inference
Lecture Notes
Logic Programming
Lecture 21:
Thu 3/30
Logic Programming: Part I
Lecture Slides
Lecture 22:
Tue 4/4
Logic Programming: Part II
Lecture Slides
Lecture 23:
Thu 4/6
Logic Programming: Part III
Lecture Slides
Assignment 8 due 4/18
Lecture 24:
Tue 4/11
Summary/Comparison of Modern Language Features
Lecture 25:
Thu 4/13
Evaluation Strategies
Formal Verification
Lecture 26:
Tue 4/18
Axiomatic Semantics: Hoare Logic
Lecture Slides
Lecture Notes
Quiz 6: Prolog
Assignment 9 due 4/27
(Hoare Logic)
Lecture 27:
Thu 4/20
Axiomatic Semantics: Loop invariants, weakest precondition, strongest postcondition
Lecture 28:
Tue 4/25
Final Review
Lecture slides
Sample Final Exam (with solutions)
Lecture 29:
Thu 4/27
Final Review
Quiz 7: Axiomatic Semantics
Final Exam:
Thu 5/4 2:00–4:45pm
Final Exam