Syllabus and general information for MC28: Introduction to Computer Science II (Fall 1996)


In MC28 we continue exploring the perspectives and methods of computer science, particularly abstraction. We'll first confront language issues by investigating how one might write and modify a Scheme system in Scheme, a so-called meta-circular evaluator. We'll next consider the notion of computations with changing state by looking ``under the hood'' at computers. We'll extend this notion of state into other areas, such as the use of state to construct more efficient computational processes than otherwise, and the use of object-based and object-oriented programming to model systems of objects with changing state. Finally, at the end of the semester we'll see how object-oriented programming plays out in a second programming language (Java) and, if time permits, take a brief look at how to write concurrent programs (those that do more than one thing at a time) and/or distributed programs (those that run on more than one computer).

Office hours

I will be available in my office (OHS 303) on Wednesdays from 8:00 to 8:50, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:20, on Mondays from 1:30 to 2:20, and by appointment. You may send me electronic mail at or call me at extension 7466. I'll try to put any temporary updates to my office hours on my web page and any long-term updates on my on-line schedule, so check there if in doubt.

David Wolfe, the lab instructor, will have office hours as well. He'll post them on his web page. His office is OHS 306, his email address is, and his phone extension is 7469.

World Wide Web

All course handouts will be available through my World Wide Web page, and some supplementary materials such as code to use as a starting point in assignments may be available there as well. The URL for this course is


The normal prerequisite is MC27, but Karl Knight's FT01 from Fall of 1995 together with his J-term course from 1996 is also acceptable.

Text and readings

The primary text for the course will be the manuscript Concrete Abstractions: An Introduction to Computer Science by Max Hailperin, Barbara Kaiser, and Karl Knight. We will use chapters 10-14, which are in separate ``MC28'' volume at the Book Mark. For the Java part of the course at the end of the semester, I hope to have a handout or two written by then. (There's also an on-line Java Tutorial at, and a copy of Cornell and Horstmann's Core Java book in the MCS Lab monitors' room, either of which you are welcome to use as a supplement.)


Normally labs will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays (and classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), but there are a few exceptions. The first day of classes, Tuesday September 10th, will be a class day rather than a lab day. Monday November 11th and Monday December 9th will be lab days rather than class days. Labs will be held in the OHS 326 lab, using SchematiX on the SGI computers. (For the Java lab at the end of the semester, the choice of computing equipment isn't finalized yet. It might be the SGIs, or it might be the Linux PCs in the OHS 329 lab.)


The two intra-term exams will be conducted during the evening from 7:00-8:30pm on Thursday, October 10th and Thursday, November 14th. (There will be no lab on those two Thursdays.) The final exam will be as scheduled by the registrar; tentatively 8am on Wednesday, December 18th.


Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding, not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably dishonorable.

Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing. Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary action.

The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the team should be be properly cited.

One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or ``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.

Late assignments

All homework and lab assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after graded assignments are handed back.

If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Grade changes

Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading, and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I have been especially unjust.


I will provide you with a letter grade on each homework and lab assignment and on each test, in addition to the mid-term and final grades, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a guideline, the components will contribute in the following proportion to the final grade: However, I reserve the right to subjectively adjust your final grade. Please see me if you have any question how you stand. Class participation is not graded; however, it allows you to find and repair the gaps in your understanding before doing the homework or exam, and thus can dramatically improve your grade.

Style guidelines

All homework and lab reports should be readily readable, and should not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. In particular: Be sure your assignments are always stapled together and that your name is always on them.


Please contact me immediately if you have special physical circumstances, e.g. impaired vision, which may affect the accessibility of any course components. I will do my best to facilitate necessary arrangements or resources.


Section 0 means the material at the beginning of a chapter before the first section. When a reading is indicated as going to a particular page number, it means up to the heading on that page. The same section number on the next class day then indicates to finish the section.

This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material. However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised syllabi.
9/1010.0-10.1EBNF (class instead of lab)
9/12Lab 1: Extending evaluators
9/13More on Micro-Scheme

9/1610.3Global definitions: Mini-Scheme
9/17Lab 1 (continued)
9/1810.4Adding explanatory outputHW 1
9/19Lab 1 (continued)
9/20More on explanatory output

9/2311.0-11.1The SLIM architecture
9/24Lab 1 (concludes)
9/2511.2SLIM's instruction setLab 1
9/26Lab 2: Assembly language programming
9/2711.3Iteration in assembly language

9/3011.4Recursion in assembly languageHW 2
10/3Lab 2 (continued)
10/4More on assembly programming

10/711.5Memory in Scheme: vectors
10/8Lab 2 (continued)
10/9Review; catch-upHW 3
10/10Test 1, 7:00-8:30pm; no lab
10/1112.1Revisiting tree recursion

10/15Lab 2 (concludes)
10/16More on memoizationLab 2
10/17Lab 3: Formatting paragraphs
10/1812.3Dynamic programming

10/21More on dynamic programming
10/22Lab 3 (continued)
10/2313.1Arithmetic expressions revisitedHW 4
10/24Lab 3 (continued)

10/29Lab 3 (concludes)
10/3013.2RA-stacks and rep. invariantsLab 3
10/31Lab 4: Robots
11/1More on RA-stacks and rep. invariants

11/413.3Red-black treesHW 5
11/5Lab 4 (continued)
11/6More on red-black trees
11/7Lab 4 (concludes)
11/813.4DictionariesLab 4

11/11Lab 5: Dictionaries (lab instead of class)
11/12Lab 5 (continued)
11/13Review; catch-up
11/14Test 2, 7:00-8:30pm; no lab
11/1514.1-14.2Object-oriented programming

11/18More on object-oriented programming
11/19Lab 5 (concludes)
11/2014.3Extensions/variations on compu-dudsLab 5
11/21Lab 6: Adventures in the Imaginary Land of Gack
11/2214.4-p. 552Implementing object-oriented programming

11/2514.4More on implementation of o-o programming
11/26Lab 6 (continued)
11/27Yet more on implementation of o-o programmingHW 6

12/2Programming in Java
12/3Lab 6 (continued)
12/4More on programming in Java
12/5Lab 6 (concludes)
12/6Yet more on programming in JavaLab 6

12/9Lab 7: CompuDuds in Java (lab instead of class)
12/10Lab 7 (continued)
12/11Even more on Java programming (concurrency?)
12/12Lab 7 (concludes)
12/13Review; catch-up; evaluationLab 7

12/18Final exam, 8am (tentative)

Course web site:
Instructor: Max Hailperin <>
Lab instructor: David Wolfe <>