TITLE: At the End of Week n AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 07, 2007 4:41 PM DESC: ----- BODY: 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 sentence. The compiler course 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 -- so maybe... 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 snowy 5K 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. -----