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
Prerequisite CS 231 or equivalent
Semester Spring 2023
Date Time, Location

Section A: MWF 10 - 10:50 am, DAVI 117

Section B: MWF 11 - 11:50 am, DAVI 117

Instructor Ying Li
Office: Davis 111
Office hours:
Tuesdays: 2:00 - 3:30 pm (Davis 111)
Wednesdays: 1:00 - 3:00 pm (Davis 111)
Thursdays: 2:00 - 3:30 pm (Davis 111)
Or by appointment over Zoom
Masking To better protect everyone by reducing the chance of spreading the virus and minimize illness-related "downtime," masks will be required in the classroom and Ying's office during the entire semester, and Ying will distribute masks on the first day of class.
Evening TAs
Date, Time TA (Email)
Tuesday, 7:00 - 10:00 pm Carly Levinsohn (
Wednesday, 7:00 - 10:00 pm Samuel Munoz (
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.
Grading The course grade will be determined as follows:
  • Projects: 45%
  • Weekly Homework: 10%
  • Weekly Quizzes: 20%
  • Class Participation: 10%
  • Final Exam: 15%
Programming Projects

Programming projects are designed to provide you with an opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired in class. Projects are typically assigned on Wednesdays. The standard deadline for weekly projects is the following Wednesday at midnight, and for bi-weekly projects, it is the midnight of the second Wednesday after the assignment.

Each project is divided into two components, one focusing on C programming language, and the other on a language of your choice. The C component must be completed individually. For the second component, you are expected to independently learn a new programming language and complete the section either alone or with a partner. If choosing to work with a partner, both members should jointly learn the chosen language starting from project 2. It is essential that both team members actively engage in learning the selected language. Your performance on the final exam will depend on your proficiency in the chosen language.

You are required to submit your source code (both C and the chosen language) and a README.txt file to the file server, as well as a Google Site report for the selected language. The specific submission guidelines for each project will be provided. Please follow the submission guidelines for turning 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 completed 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 that you may choose to hand in one project on Sunday instead of Wednesday. Please email Ying and let her know you are taking your extension before the deadline.

Weekly Homework

Homework helps you self-check your understanding of the course contents and get you prepared for the quizzes. Homework is usually assigned every Wednesday. The deadline is usually the following Friday at the beginning of the class.

The homework deadline is hard deadline. We will discuss the solution in Friday's class, so 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.

Homework submission is via email. Please make sure the subject of your email follows this format CS333 Spring2023 HW# -- Your Name (e.g., CS333 Spring2023 HW1 -- Ying Li). If your subject format is correct, you will automatically receive a homework solution.

Bi-weekly Quizzes

Bi-weekly quizzes are an opportunity for you to show me your understanding of the course. Quizzes are quick and straightforward if you participate in class, study the notes, and complete the homework.

There will be a about 10 minute quiz every other Friday. You have 20 minutes to complete the quiz.

Each quiz may be made up when a prior request is made or there is a documented health issue. Please contact Ying immediately in the event of illness and other unforeseen circumstances, we will work out accommodations.

I understand that everyone has a bad day. So, the lowest quiz grade will be dropped.

Class Participation

You are expected to attend every lecture and actively join the class discussions. Class discussion is a vital part of the learning experience. A good class discussion needs your contribution.

If you must miss a class, please email me in advance. I'm happy to work with you.

Participation also includes coming to my office hours or asking for help from the TAs.

Final Exam

The final exam will be oral, and you are expected to finish it individually. Exam details will be provided in the last class. There are no make-ups for the final exam.


There is no required textbook for this course. Lecture contents will be in the lecture notes, and all lecture notes will be posted in the Notes section of the webpage.

The following textbook is recommended if you are interested in consulting an additional resource.

Allen B. Tucker and Robert E. Noonan: Programming Languages: Principles and Paradigms, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2006, ISBN 978-0-07-286609-4.

Programming Languages

Everyone will be programming in C and choosing one language from List A in this course. If you are interested in learning a second selected language as an extension, you can pick one from List A, B, or C. The selected langauge(s) should be new to you.

List Languages
A: Imperative and
Object-Oriented Languages
Visual Basic
B: Functional and Logic
C: Special Purpose Languages Extensible Markup Language [XML]

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

How to succeed

Projects: Start working on the projects as early as possible. Ask TAs and me for help. Talk with your peers about the course concepts.

Homework: Homework assignments help you self-check your understanding of the course contents and prepare you better for the quizzes. You are strongly encouraged to try out the homework questions before reading my homework solutions.

Quizzes: Study for the quizzes by doing the homework assignments. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped. So, your grade won't be affected by that single underperformed quiz.

Participation: Be active in class, asking questions and joining discussions. Come to Ying's office hours. Ask her or TAs for help if you have questions.

Final Exam: Learn your selected language and C language well enough during the semester and let yourself feel comfortable talk about these languages. Start working on the exam early after it's assigned.

How to get help from Ying I'm happy to help if you let me know your questions or concerns. I will be in my office, Davis 111, waiting for you during my office hours. If I'm not in my office during my office hours, please find me in the robotics lab. If my office hours don't work for you, don't hesitate to let me know. I'm happy to schedule a Zoom meeting with you. Email is another good way to ask me for help. I will reply to your email ASAP. If you don't receive my response 24 hours after sending the email, please don't hesitate to "ping" me. There is nothing wrong with your email. It's just that your email may be buried under a large pile of emails, and yours is very important to me.
Collaboration, Academic honesty

This policy applies to anyone you work with other than your partner.

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 programming project 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.

You can use ChatGPT to solve your problems when you are stuck with your projects or homework at some point. But, you are not expected to use ChatGPT to generate programs for your projects. If you used ChatGPT to assist with your projects or homework, you should acknowledge which part you used ChatGPT at the end of the assignments. Not doing so breaches academic integrity policies. It's your responsibility to verify the correctness of the answers from ChatGPT. You will not lose points for claiming to use ChatGPT to solve your problems. But you will lose points for incorrect answers.

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) and other specific forms of behavior that violate federal and state laws (Title IX and Title VII, and the Maine Human Rights Act). Such behavior also requires the College to fulfill certain obligations under two other federal laws, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Statistics Act (Clery Act). To learn more about what constitutes sexual misconduct or to report an incident, see:

I am committed to all Colby students feeling safe, accepted, and included in all aspects of their college experiences, including this course. Colby prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct or gender based discrimination of any kind and is obligated, by federal and state laws, to respond to reports and provide resources to students. As your professor I am considered a "responsible employee" which requires me to report incidence of sexual misconduct, dating violence, or harassment to the Title IX Coordinator.

If you wish to access confidential support services, you may contact:

  • The Counseling Center: 207-859-4490
  • The Title IX Confidential Advocate, Emily Schusterbauer: 207-859-4093
  • The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life: 207-859-4272
  • Maines's 24/7 Sexual Assault Helpline: 1-800-871-7741
Religious Holidays

Colby College supports the religious practices of students, faculty, and staff, but we don't always know which people will observe which holidays. Since I need to plan course activities in advance, I need to know in advance, if you need to miss a class or have a deadline adjusted in order to observe a holiday. Please notify me by email at least 14 days in advance of any religious holiday that will affect your ability to participate in this course.

© 2023 Ying Li. Page last modified: 01/31/2023