Evaluation Comments
Course:Compiler Design

Quarter:Winter 07/08
Time: M 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?

1.   Strengths: enthusiasm and knowledge about subjectWeaknesses: Not being as familiar with Corin's code as though it were his own.
2.   Strengths: Definite enthusiasm about the subject and deep knowledge. Lectures were well organized, and good balance between practical and theoretical aspects of the subject matter. Level of formality seemed to be appropriate for this course: formal treatment of many topics, but definitely enough focus on practical implementation issues as well. Weaknesses: Since it was the instructor's first time teaching the class, some aspects of the class examples and homework assignments didn't "work" perfectly at all times, and this caused a bit of frustration especially as I worked through the homework projects, but this didn't deter significantly from the overall learning that took place in the class.
3.   This instructor presents the material in a very clear and efficient way. He is extremely prepared in the subject. No weakness.
4.   No real weaknesses. Definitely keeps the course moving and interesting without confusing students.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

1.   The homework (Clogs project) and the project
2.   Although I don't intend to pursue advanced research in computer science or compilers, the knowledge of compilers and parsing will definitely benefit my career as a software developer. This course gave great insight into the workings of a compiler, and deepened my understanding of development languages and programming as a whole.
3.   Every aspect. If you like this kind of topics the course was full of great things to learn. It has definitely improved my knowledge in the subject and opened a huge amount new prospectives.
4.   Getting into the lower level aspects of how languages go from a "spec" to an actual programming language.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   More detail in the areas of parsing and target machine code-generation, less emphasis on optimizations
2.   In the later weeks of the course, the instructor focused on optimization issues, parsing, and other interesting and relevant topics. However, I think there should have been some minor homework assignments to cover those topics and solidify our knowledge. Since the entire focus of the second half of the class was our final project, the students were not accountable for anything that was taught in the last few weeks. Although I attended every class and tried to participate, I know my learning would have been deeper if I was responsible for completing some assignment based on the last few weeks of presentation. I do understand that the instructor didn't want to distract us from the final project, but I think a simple homework could have been devised to balance the importance of the final project versus the need to have some accountability for the later topics in the course.
3.   I would have more homeworks. Maybe smaller than the one we had, but something which would allow us to verify and understand what we covered in the lecture.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   Fine.
2.   Grading has been fair so far, and I appreciated that the class was given the opportunity to make a second submission for the most difficult homework assignment. It has taken a bit longer than expected to receive grades for a number of homework assignments that we've turned in, but so far I think grading has been fair.
3.   Fair and impartial.

Other comments?

1.   none.
3.   The final project is very good idea. It's a very good way to learn something new and challenging.