Evaluation Comments
Course:Formal Semantics of Programming Languages

Quarter:Autumn 10/11
Time: Tu 17:45 - 21:00
Location: Loop Campus
James Riely PhD

Associate Professor
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Summary     1       2       

What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

2.   Riely oscillates between being completely on top of the game and being a mediocre lecturer.When he's up, he's cracking jokes and explaining the material in an energetic way that made the relatively dry material easier to enjoy.When he's down, the dryness of the material *shines* as it seems to drag down the whole class. I think using Coq for the majority of the class time hurt certain lectures.

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

2.   The ides of program correctness has really stuck with me, as has the concept of building a logic system from scratch.

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   I'm not quite sure what the goal of the class was. It is a very interesting topic, and if the course was renamed (and the description changed), there might be interest and potentially a cross-listing with the math department's new applied concentration.
2.   I think we spent too much time on learning Coq and it's particularities (roughly the first half of the course). If we could skim over all of the different proof tactics and get to the higher level concepts earlier, I think the course would have been a lot more beneficial.I doubt I will ever use Coq again, though many of the equivalence proofs and invariance rules will surely come up again and again.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

2.   Seemed fine enough, though it would have been nicer to get homework back quickly.

Other comments?

2.   This was an interesting course, but not at all what I expected. We covered a lot of theory, which I really appreciated. I really do wish we didn't have to spend so much time on the semantics of Coq, though.