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CS 4481 Course Syllabus

Lecture: T/Th 1:00-2:15pm, LIB 7, CHE 311
Prerequisite: CS 3385
Required text: Engineering a Compiler, 2nd edition, by Keith Cooper and Linda Torczon
Moodle page: Moodle
Instructor: Paul Bodily (office hours and contact information)

Course Overview

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to compilers. Topics we will cover are listed in the schedule. The student is expected to have programming experience in a C-based language (e.g. C, C++, Java, C#) including a solid understanding of data structures. We will write elements of a compiler using Java and ANTLR (a parser generator).


Final grade percentage will be computed as follows:

Type Number Percentage
Reading Quizzes 26 (Drop lowest 3) 10%
Projects 7 20%
Homework 6 20%
Midterm 1 20%
Final 1 30%


We will have daily quizzes at the beginning of class (really). I will drop the 3 lowest quizzes. The quizzes will be on the daily reading assignment. This doesn't mean that you must have a perfect understanding of everything you read. It just means that you need to have a grasp of what is being talked about, why it is important, etc. Quizzes cannot be made up.


Programming projects are done in Java and will be turned in using Moodle.

Projects will be graded as follows:

  • 90% for fulfilling the requirements in the problem statement.
  • 10% for coding style. Your code should be well structured.


Homework assignments can be typed or written by hand and you will submit them via Moodle (PDF, scanned, or photo is fine, just be sure it is clean, clear, and easy to read). Homework assignments are due by the beginning of class. No late homework will be accepted.


A midterm and final will be given. No exam study guide will be given. The exams will cover material in the reading assignments, lecture, projects and written homework. The exams are closed book, but you are allowed one 3x5 card of notes, both sides.

Make sure you thoroughly understand how to do the homework problems -- many exam questions will be like those in the written homework. Many exam questions will also deal directly with the programming projects.

Extra Credit

No extra credit will be given. Therefore, it is important to begin the semester with the knowledge that exams and assignments will constitute your entire grade.

Final grade

Grades are assigned on the following absolute scale:

93.0 <= A
90.0 <= A- < 93.0
87.0 <= B+ < 90.0
83.0 <= B < 87.0
80.0 <= B- < 83.0
77.0 <= C+ < 80.0
73.0 <= C < 77.0
70.0 <= C- < 73.0
60.0 <= D < 70.0
F < 60.0

Exceptions will be made at the sole discretion of the instructor. Scores and grades will be maintained on Moodle.

Questions and forum

Questions on how to do homework and projects should be asked using the Moodle forum. Score and grade questions should be be addressed directly to the instructor via email.

Late work policy

No late homework or projects are accepted. This means that if you turn an assignment in one minute after it's due you'll receive a zero. Daily quizzes and exams cannot be made up. Exceptions are on a case-by-case basis and are only granted for religious holy days (must have prior approval), documented illness or documented emergencies.

Incomplete Grade Policy

An incomplete grade is available when a student who is satisfactorily completing the course and who has completed approximately 70% or more of the course suddenly encounters an extenuating circumstance that prevents them from completing the course. The student must contact me to negotiate the requirements for completing the incomplete grade at the time that the extenuating circumstance arises (not at the end of the semester). For more information see

CoSE X grade policy

In the College of Science & Engineering, a student who earns a failing grade via course work (exams, homework, etc.) and has unexcused absences that total more than 30% of class meetings will receive a grade of "X".

Questions and forum

Questions on how to do homework and projects should be asked using the class discord server (link available from Moodle) where other students can benefit from and possibly provide help on your questions in addition to help provided by the professor. Please see section below on "Academic integrity" for clarification on what types of help may or may not be appropriate. Score and grade questions should be addressed directly to the instructor via email.

Getting Help

TA information can be found atop the Moodle page for this course. A tutoring lab is also available for students enrolled in any CS course. Note that not all tutors may have taken the course you need help with, so you may need to try a few different tutors. The schedule and location is available here: Students can also get help from the professor outside of class as needed.

The university also provides more general tutoring services on a variety of subjects (in-person, via Zoom, etc.). Please be sure to check out the University Tutoring website here:

Usage of ChatGPT, LLMs, or other assistive AI

There is no doubt that knowing when and how to use large language models (LLMs) (e.g., ChatGPT) and other assistive AI will be a valuable asset in your career post-graduation. But you should not be using these tools on any exams, quizzes, or coding projects in your classes as an undergraduate. Your instructors are assuming that the topics that they present and assess you on in your classes are topics that you will have mastered on your own by the time you graduate.

I think of it somewhat like self-driving cars. New drivers are expected to know how to drive a traditional vehicle and to pass all driving tests without any assistance from AI. AI can and does fail. We need drivers who know how to drive without the assistance of AI, who know the rules of the road, who possess an intuition for safety, and who possess the raw skills to drive the car themselves. New drivers would likely be expected to drive a traditional vehicle for the first several years to ensure that this knowledge grabs hold.

In short, I caution you heavily against using LLMs or other assistiveAI in your CS courses. You need to develop the ability to decipher between reputable and non-reputable sources of information, to search Google and find valid answers, to develop ways of knowing, and to develop connections with human experts. You can and should use these tools on your own personal projects. After you have a mastery of the topics you're learning in your class (and on your own personal projects), test ChatGPT (for example) so that you can see for yourself what its strengths and weaknesses are. Avoid the tendency to be overreliant on these tools at the expense of your learning.

Free Access to Microsoft Office

Please be aware and take advantage of Microsoft Office software as needed to complete work for this course. Microsoft Office is a free program for those at Idaho State University, including different Microsoft Software. Find more information here.


Like it or not, much of your future success depends heavily on your skills as a communicator. Whether in project reports or service learning proposals, any work (including emails and forum posts) should exhibit a professional standard of writing. Like it or not, potential and actual employers will judge you based on your ability to communicate. I will happily give feedback on your writing, but it will be of greatest benefit to you if you are making your best effort. Points may be taken off for poor grammar, spelling, etc.

A free writing center is available on both the Pocatello and IF campuses that offers face-to-face, online chat, and online written feedback.

Late work policy

No late homework or projects are accepted. This means that if you turn an assignment in one minute after it is due you will receive a zero. Quizzes and exams cannot be made up. Exceptions are on a case-by-case basis and are only granted for religious holy days (must have prior approval), documented illness, or documented emergencies.

It is in your best interest to submit whatever you can before deadlines. Probably the best way to make sure you are not unpleasantly surprised is to submit incrementally: submit what you have early, and then continue to improve your work and resubmit as you make improvements, up until the deadline.

Note that the schedule is carefully designed to give you plenty of time between when we discuss in class the concepts needed for a project and when it is due. Please start early and make use of that time to do a good job. If you do not get the entire project completed by the deadline, make sure you submit what you have.

In my experience, one key to success, in class, in our profession, and in life in general, is being organized and meeting deadlines. The no-late-work-policy is in large part to help you be successful and be able to continue progressing and focusing on new material. Please submit your work on time!

Letters of Recommendation

Not infrequently do students ask me to write them a letter of recommendation. I am generally very happy and willing to do so. I will paint you in the best light possible, but I will be honest and transparent. Make it easy for me to give you a good recommendation:

  • Attend class in person (if possible) and participate regularly in class.
  • Demonstrate good orthography and grammar in all written communication.
  • Ask good questions and seek help as often as you need it.
  • Demonstrate independent problem-solving skills in completing all assignments and assessments.
  • Prioritize punctuality in attendance and in assignment submission.

A letter of recommendation is more than merely a reflection of the grade you receive in the class. It is intended to help future employers/advisors assess how successful you will be as an independent researcher/employee and team member.

For your benefit, I suggest that whenever asking someone to write a letter of recommendation (including myself) that you ask specifically if they are willing and able to write a good recommendation. If they do not feel able to write you a positive recommendation, you do not want them to write you a letter.

Academic integrity

You may work together with other members of the class; in fact, you are strongly encouraged to do so; however, do NOT turn in other people's work. There is a fine line that may require some judgment on your part. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all work is to be done individually. Helping each other through discussion is permitted. You may consult the internet for questions related to programming projects (not homeworks), but you may not copy code from the internet or any other source except for the course textbook. Projects may not be done in groups unless the instructor explicitly says otherwise. Homework may be discussed in groups, but students should be careful to develop individual mastery of the problems and solutions.

Academic integrity is expected of all students. Academic dishonesty, including cheating or plagiarism, is unacceptable. The Idaho State University academic dishonesty policy allows an instructor to impose one of several penalties for cheating that range from a warning up to assigning a failing grade for the course or dismissal from the University. ANY use of an electronic device or other form of unauthorized materials during an exam or other assessment will be considered cheating. For more information, please see the ISU Policies and Procedures Policy 5000 (Student Conduct Code).

Some examples of dishonest behavior include, but are not limited to

  • Copying material from a source without attributing the source (including ChatGPT).
  • Allowing another student to copy any part of your work and then submitting it as his/her own.
  • Allowing someone else (or ChatGPT) to complete any part of your assignments for you and then passing off the work as your own.
  • Having someone else (or ChatGPT) debug your project code or check exam/quiz answers prior to submission (you must learn to do this yourself).
  • Bringing unauthorized material or devices to an exam. Note that you do not have to be caught using them – just having them is an offense.
  • Copying to any extent from another student's exam or assignment.
  • Communicating with someone other than the professor during an exam (including ChatGTP).
  • Removing the exam from the classroom.
  • Acquiring exam or assignment answers or questions.
  • Taking any part of an exam for someone else or having someone (or ChatGPT) take any part of an exam for you.
  • Finding and using another student's solution to a similar project.
  • Performing any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts.

I prosecute cheating cases to the full extent. I have a general policy that I adhere to in isolated instances. When addressing academic dishonesty my policy is to submit a report to the registrar's office (two such reports across any courses at ISU can result in expulsion from the university). Besides this report, I give students two choices. The student can simply fail all assignments/exams where academic dishonesty was an issue and then continue to work through the course. The second option is to fail and repeat the course. Simply withdrawing after having been caught for academic dishonesty is not a viable option. If you choose to stay in the course, you will receive a 0 on all assignments where academic honesty was an issue (based on your integrity in letting me know or based on me finding evidence of dishonesty). I do not mean to sound gruff. I do not wish to discourage students from learning, growing, and moving on from such experiences. I will support students however they wish to proceed. Incidents with academic dishonesty do not change my eagerness to support your learning and your success.

Classroom Etiquette

To facilitate a productive learning atmosphere, it is expected that students will be punctual, regularly attend class, maintain a positive attitude, use appropriate language, and show respectfulness to other students and the professor. Students are expected to come to class prepared, participate in activities and discussions, and treat others with respect in the classroom, which includes listening interactively to classmates and the professor, and respecting others’ viewpoints. Students should expect frequent and personal invitations to participate in course lectures.

Open laptops and phones are not allowed except for the purpose of taking notes. Please do not text, check social media sites, or eat meals during class.

Students are expected to arrive for class and be in their seats by the scheduled beginning of class. Repeatedly coming to class late disrupts the teaching/learning environment in the classroom and adversely affects the other students in the class.


Our program is committed to all students achieving their potential. If you have a disability or think you have a disability (physical, learning disability, hearing, vision, psychiatric) which may need a reasonable accommodation, please contact Disability Services located in the Rendezvous Complex, Room 125, 208-282-3599 as early as possible.

Personal Health and Well-Being

Success in this course depends heavily on your personal health and wellbeing. Recognize that stress is an expected part of the college experience, and it often can be compounded by unexpected setbacks or life changes outside the classroom. I encourage you to reframe challenges as an unavoidable pathway to success. Reflect on your role in taking care of yourself throughout the term, before the demands of exams and projects reach their peak. Please feel free to reach out to me about any difficulty you may be having that may impact your performance in this course. If you are experiencing stress in other areas of your campus life, I am happy to help you get in contact with other resources on campus that stand ready to assist you. In addition to your academic advisor, I strongly encourage you to contact the many other support services on campus that are available.

Counseling and Testing Service

ISU Counseling and Testing Services (CATS) would like to remind all students who are enrolled in the current semester (part-time or full-time) they are eligible for free, confidential counseling services. CATS offers individual, group, and couples counseling, as well as Biofeedback Training. We also offers crisis intervention services Monday through Friday from 8-5.

To establish services:

  • Pocatello: Call 208-282-2130, Monday – Friday from 8am – 4pm. Office is located at Graveley Hall, 3rd floor of the south side. Walk-ins are welcome Monday-Friday from 8am - 4pm.
  • Idaho Falls: Bennion Student Union, 2nd floor, Room 223. Please call 208-282-7750 to schedule an appointment.
  • Meridian: Counseling services are available to Meridian students through the ISU Counseling Department. Please call 208-373-1719 to schedule an appointment.
  • Out of State ISU Students: ISU Counseling and Testing Service has partnered with LifeWorks, Inc. to bring the MySSP tool to ISU students while they are physically out of the state of Idaho. Through MySSP, students can access health assessments, real-time chat support, and free counseling from licensed mental health professionals. Connect with My SSP by calling 1-866-743-7732 or visiting If calling from outside North America: 001.416.380.6578· Download "My SSP" from the app store to use on your phone.

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Idaho State University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator (visit for contact and other information).

Academic Freedom and Responsibility

In carrying out its educational mission, Idaho State University is committed to adhering to the values articulated in Idaho State Board of Education Policy III.B. Membership in the academic community imposes on administrators, faculty members, other institutional employees, and students an obligation to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions, and to foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and free expression on and off the campus of an institution.


Many thanks to Dr. John Edwards for his support and contributions in developing this course.