TITLE: At the End of Week n
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: December 07, 2007 4:41 PM
Classes are over. Next week, we do the semiannual ritual of
finals week, which keeps many students on edge while at the
same time releasing most of the tension in faculty. The
tension for my compiler students will soon end, as the
submission deadline is 39 minutes away as I type this
has been a success several ways, especially in the most
important: students succeeded in writing a compiler. Two teams
submitted their completed programs earlier this week -- early!
-- and a couple of others have completed the project since.
These compilers work from beginning to end, generating assembly
language code that runs on a simple simulated machine. Some of
the language design decisions contributed to this level of
success, so I feel good. (And I already know several ways to
do better next time!)
I've actually wasted far too much time this week writing programs
in our toy functional language, just because I enjoy watching
them run under the power of my students' compilers.
More unthinkable: There is a greater-than-0% chance that at
least one team will implement tail call optimization before our
final exam period next. They don't have an exam to study for
in my course -- the project is the purpose we are together --
In lieu of an exam, we will debrief the project -- nothing as
formal as a retrospective, but an opportunity to demo programs,
discuss their design, and talk a bit about the experience of
writing such a large, non-trivial program. I have never found
or made the time to do this sort of studio work during the
semester in the compilers course, as I have in my other senior
project courses. This is perhaps another way for me to improve
this course next time around.
The end of week n is a good place to be. This weekend
holds a few non-academic challenges for me: a
with little hope for the planned PR and my first performances
in the theater.
Tonight is opening night... which feels as much like a scary
final exam as anything I've done in a long time. My students
may have a small smile in their hearts just now.