CMSC 631, Spring 2006

Program Analysis and Understanding

  • May 18. Final exam scores have been mailed out.
  • May 10. Homework 6 and project 4 grades have been mailed out.
  • May 9. Slides from the FindBugs lecture are now posted.
  • Apr 19. Online course evaluations are available Apr 20-May 11. Please take the time to fill out an evaluation.
  • Apr 2. Project 3 scores have been mailed out. (Avg=92, Min=82, Max=100)
  • Mar 31. Sample solutions for homework 5 have been posted.
  • Mar 14. Sample solutions for homework 4 have been posted.
  • Mar 8. Some project suggestions are now available (accessible from within domain).
  • Mar 6. Solutions to homework 3 have been posted.
  • Mar 2. Project 2 grades have been emailed out.
  • Feb 28. Solutions to homework 2 have been posted under /s2.pdf, as usual.
  • Feb 22. Project 1 grades have been emailed out. Let me know if you didn't receive them, or if you have any questions.
  • Feb 13. Sample solutions to homework 1 have been posted. To avoid search engine caching there's no link to them. To find them go to the class home page /s1.pdf.
  • Feb 13. My regular office hours this week are cancelled, due to a bunch of unfortunate coincidences. I will instead hold office hours Wednesday from 1-3pm. I'll also be available after class on Tuesday, and I'll respond promptly to any email questions when possible.
  • Feb 7. Instructions for submitting the programming projects have been posted to the forum.
  • Feb 2. Two papers to read for Tuesday have been posted on the lectures web page.

Location CSIC 3118, TuTh 2:00-3:15pm
Final Exam Available Tuesday, May 16, 11am
Due Wednesday, May 17, 11am
Projects Due Fri, May 19
Instructor Jeff Foster
4129 A.V. Williams
jfoster at
Office Hours M 1-2pm, Tu 11am-12pm
Textbook None

Online course evaluations are available Apr 20-May 11. Please take the time to fill out an evaluation.


This core course is about techniques for analyzing and understanding software artifacts. Ultimately, the goal of this area of study is to improve the quality of software. In this course, we will cover there related areas of programming languages research: (1) Static analysis, the name for any automatic technique for reasoning about program source code. We will study data flow analysis and type systems, and more briefly theorem proving and model checking. (2) Formal systems for describing languages and programs, including lambda calculus and axiomatic, denotational, and operational semantics. And (3) Programming language features and how they affect software, including imperative, functional, and object-oriented programming.

Prerequisite: CMSC 430 or equivalent. Most of the material covered in a typical compilers course (CMSC 430) will not be used in this class, so even if you have not taken such a course you may be perfectly fine in 631. Contact the instructor if you are interested in taking 631 but aren't sure if you have the background.

Grading and Expectations

Subject to change, especially until the start of the semester.

The final course grade will be made up of the following components:

  • Homework (10%) There will be short written assignments (roughly 5-6) to give you an opportunity to practice the material we will go over during lecture.
  • Programming Assignments (20%) There will be roughly 3-4 programming assignments in which you will implement some of the ideas from class.
  • Project (35%) You will be expected to complete a substantial research project during the semester. Projects may be completed individually or in pairs. For more details, see the projects page.
  • Participation and Presentation (10%) Later on in the class you will give a lecture on one or two papers selected from a list. You will also be graded on contributions to class discussion.
  • Final Exam (35%) This course will include a final exam, which will cover material from the homeworks, programming assginments, and other lecture material.

Late Policy

Written assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Programming assignments are due at midnight on the due date. Neither written nor programming assignments may be turned in late. If you cannot make a due date because of extenuating circumstances, or because it conflicts with a religious holiday, please inform the instructor as soon as possible.

Academic Dishonesty

The college policy on academic dishonesty is strictly followed. All graded materials must be strictly individual efforts. Projects may include collaboration as permitted by the instructor.

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