Charles N. Fisher, Ron K. Cytron, Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr, Crafting a Compiler, Addison-Wesley, 1ed, ISBN-13: 978-0-13-606705-4

There are two textbooks on reserve in the Arthur Lakes Memorial Library.

Course Description

CSCI498 --- COMPILER DESIGN: An introductory course to the design and construction of compilers. Topics include scanning (lexical analysis), context free grammars, recursive descent (top-down) parsing, LR (bottom up) parsing, syntax directed translation, syntax trees, expression trees, parse trees, aspects of intermediate representation and target creation may be covered as time permits.

Computer Organization (CSCI341) and Software Engineering (CSCI306).

Learning Goals

The objectives of this course are to introduce students to theory and tools behind language compilers. Upon completion of this course, you should know:

  • The steps taken by most compilers to translate a program listing to either another language or target code for a machine.
  • The theory of lexical analysis, regular expressions, deterministic finite automata (DFAs), non-deterministic finite automata (NFAs), and how to use scanner generators (eg flex).

  • The fundamental principles of context free grammars as well as their associated attributes and properties.
  • The theory and implementation of top-down and bottom up parsing, the generation of parse trees, and their translation to abstract syntax trees (ASTs).

Learning Methods

This will not be a traditional lecture course. Instead, it will be taught using an active learning technique known as formal learning groups. Here is how they will work.

A semester will have three rounds of learning groups (LGs), each about five weeks long. Students will be randomly assigned to learning groups at the beginning of each round.

  1. "Lectures" will begin immediately with learning group time. LGs should review the previous assignment's learning goals and discuss the new content. LGs are expected to rearrange the room furnishings to accommodate their group work. Instructor(s) will circulate through the learning groups to record participation points, observe discussions, and answer questions.

  2. After the initial group time lecture will take two different shapes depending on instructional needs:
    1. There will be a brief discussion of the current assignment's topics, perhaps working through a few example problems. This will be led by the instructor but guided by student input. Important topics in the next reading assignment will be introduced to the students. And the duration of the lecture period will be short problem solving time (still in learning groups) or a more formal (but short-lived) lecture period.

    2. Or, there will be a more formal lecture over the current important algorithms and data-structures being covered in the LGAs.
  3. Before the end of most lecture periods, learning groups will have an opportunity to see the next group assignment and discuss how the work load will be divided among the members.

Student Evaluation

Students should familiarize themelves with the collaboration policy for graded work.

Syllabus modified for COVID-19 remote learning

Grade Component

Course Grade Weight


Group score on quiz #1


Median score of your group members, weighted evenly.1

Individual score on quiz #1


Weighted evenly.

Collaborative score on quiz #2 and #3


Weighted evenly.

Programming and written assignments


Read about late penalties.
NFAMATCH will be considered a beneficial score2

Midterm Exam


Final Exam (optional)


Conducted "in-person" with instructor, webcam on, answering a random selection of five questions.

Learning Group Quizzes

LG Quizzes modified for COVID-19 remote learning

LG Quizzes will be four to five questions long. Questions may test the state of your collaborative code, solicit answers essential compiler design questions, or collect your thoughts on larger more abstract topics in the design of compilers. All of your collaboration should be done in your learning group chat room --- the instructor may observe at any time. This doesn't mean you can't use other technologies for collaboration, obviously github and jitsi springs to mind , but there should be an evidence trail of your collaboration and the development of your answers in the chat room.


All programming assignments must "build" and run on alamode (BB136) machines (without the installation of additional libraries or packages). You should be comfortable using Linux at the command line.

Small programming tasks for learning group assignments may be done on the student's system of choice.

Programming and written assignments may we worth different numbers of points, but their percentile grades are all weighted the same when calculating the "Assignment" portion of your course grade.

  • Students and student groups have one week to review and contest graded work. Contact the instructor via Email with any assignment grading concerns.

  • Assignments may not be re-submitted after they have been graded, even if the re-submission is before the assignment deadline.
  • Late Policy: 10% off for first 24 hours, 15% off for second 24 hours, 40% of for the third 24 hours (3 days late). Assignments posted 4 days or more after the due date are not graded. Weekends count as late days.

Exam "No Show" Policy

Failure to sit for a scheduled exam (without an incredibly good explanation) incurs the same "late penalty" as for late assignments in the course. The "lateness" is measured between the scheduled exam time and when your instructor or course coordinator is informed of your absence.

If there is no policy for late assignments in a course, the following will be used: 10% off for first 24 hours, 20% off for second 24 hours, 40% off for the third 24 hours. Beyond this (again, without an incredibly good explanation) a zero will very likely be recorded for the exam grade.

Students are not guaranteed the opportunity to take a make-up exam; leniency in these matters is at the discretion of the course instructor(s).

Institutional Support

Disability Support Services

The Colorado School of Mines is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, including students with disabilities. If you are registered with Disability Support Services (DSS) and I have received your letter of accommodations, please contact me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. For questions or other inquiries regarding disabilities or academic accommodations, I encourage you to visit https://disabilities.mines.edu/ for more information.

Discrimination, Harassment and Title IX

All learning opportunities at Mines, including this course, require a safe environment for everyone to be productive and able to share and learn without fear of discrimination or harassment. Mines’ core values of respect, diversity, compassion, and collaboration will be honored in this course (More information can be found here) and the standards in this class are the same as those expected in any professional work environment. Discrimination or harassment of any type will not be tolerated. As a participant in this course, we expect you to respect your instructor and your classmates. As your instructor, it is my responsibility to foster a learning environment that supports diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and honors your identities. To help accomplish this:

  • Course rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.
  • If something is said or done in this course (by anyone, including myself) that made you or others feel uncomfortable, or if your performance in the course is being impacted by your experiences outside of the course, please report it to:
    1. Me (your course instructor). If you are not comfortable discussing the topic with myself, please consider

    2. the Wellness Center for Counseling (https://www.mines.edu/counseling-center/), or

    3. Speak Up which is an anonymous option to report anything that makes you uncomfortable (https://www.mines.edu/speak-up/)

In this course, we will cultivate a community that supports survivors, prevents interpersonal violence, and promotes a harassment free environment. Title IX and Colorado State law protects individuals from discrimination based on sex and gender in educational programs or activities. Mines takes this obligation seriously and is committed to providing a campus community free from gender and sex-based discrimination. Discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, and domestic violence, is prohibited and will not be tolerated within the Mines campus community. If these issues have affected you or someone you know, you can access the appropriate resources here: http://www.mines.edu/title-ix/. You can also contact the Mines Title IX Coordinator, Karin Ranta-Curran, at 303-384- 2558 or krcurran@mines.edu for more information.

Division of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Writing Center

Located in room 133 Alderson Hall (phone: 303-273-3085), the HASS Writing Center is a teaching facility providing all CSM students with an opportunity to enhance their writing proficiency. The HASS Writing Center faculty are experienced technical and professional writing instructors. The Center assists writers with all their writing needs, from course assignments to scholarship applications, proposals, letters and resumes. This service is free to CSM students and includes one-to-one tutoring and online resources. https://hass.mines.edu/enrichment/campus-writing-program/

  1. With some reasonable caveats (1)

  2. Beneficial scores can only help, not hurt your grade (2)

Syllabus (last edited 2020-04-01 09:24:54 by khellman)