CS250 Symbolic Computation
Fall 2000

Instructor: Christino Tamon
Lectures: MWF 11:00 SC162
Office hours: MW 08:00-10:00am, F 9:00-10:00am SC373
Contact: SC373, tino@clarkson.edu

Syllabus: A course that introduces symbolic computation and functional programming. Topics covered include building abstractions with procedures and with data (recursion, higher-order procedures, compound and hierarchical data) and controlling interactions (generic operations, modularity, objects, infinite data structures, self-describing data). Students will be introduced to symbolic computation using Scheme.

Text: Max Hailperin, Barbara Kaiser and Karl Knight. Concrete Abstractions. ITP, 1999.

Other recommended texts:
Daniel P. Friedman and Matthias Felleisen. The Little Schemer. The MIT Press, 4th edition, 1996.
Harold Abelson, Jay Sussman and Julie Sussman. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. The MIT Press, 2nd edition, 1996.

Grading scheme:

  • Final exam: 40%
  • Midterm exam: 20%
  • Assignments and quizzes: 40%

Course Plan:
In this course we will study functional programming. In the two previous introductory courses, CS141 and CS142, we studied a particular type of programming paradigm called imperative or procedural programming. The functional paradigm differs from the imperative paradigm in the way one views computation. The imperative style treats computation as operations performed on state variables whereas the functional style treats computation as functions operating on values. Benefits of the functional approach, among others, are the clean and direct approach to program design without introducing unnecessary side-effects. Typical well-written functional programs are easier to understand, simpler to debug, and have a simple proof of correctness. Recursion and higher-order functions will play an important role in our exploration of symbolic computation in functional programming. Other topics include streams (infinite list structure) and generic procedures. This course will mainly focus on a language called Scheme, a dialect of Lisp, as an example of a functional programming language. Some of the assignments will deal with applications in certain areas of computer science.


MIT Scheme