Evaluation Comments
Course:Formal Semantics of Programming Languages

Quarter:Autumn 07/08
Time: W 17:45 - 21:00
Location: Loop Campus
James Riely PhD

Associate Professor
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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

2.   strengths ::= knowledge of and enthusiasm for subject area | abilitity to translate heavier topics presented in the text into more tangible conceptsweaknesses ::=
3.   He is truly an amazing instructor. Appears to have mastered all the areas that anyone could complain about - from writing down on the board key comments he makes, to using different colored markers(this helps DL students), to repeating the questions, to responding to every question no matter how simple, to being available and letting us know ahead of time when he wasn't. His enthusiasm and liveliness in going over the material keeps our attention.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

2.   exposure and introduction into formal semantics, seeing applications/consequences of PL theory in languauge implementation and practice
3.   The exercise of thinking about hard things I'd never thought about before.
4.   It presented another way of thinking about programming languages.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   This class should require a formal mathematics pre-requisite.
2.   Go in to more depth when looking at the implementations of the type-checkers, are just scrap the implementations altogether
4.   Start the final paper/projects earlier. Too much hand waving, not enough math.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

2.   No issues

Other comments?

1.   The material in this class is really hard.
2.   It is unfortunate that most (all?) CTI course sections are cross listed as in-class and DL sections. I think in-class students would learn much more and have a higher quality learning experience if classes could be more seminar based. Combining in-class and DL section seem quite limiting (for the students, but even moreso for the instructor.)
3.   This is the first class where I felt so totally on the left side of the curve relative to my classmates as far as prior knowledge was concerned. At times I felt I was slowing down the class, but I easily met the prerequisites.It is great to have high-powered professors who challenge us and raise the bar, but perhaps their classes could be graded on an honor's scale where an A = 5 points instead of the usual 4 points. Some how note the level of the class in the course schedule. I'm pretty sure if I had taken the prerequisite with this professor, I would have been better prepared.