The exam format is as in previous years: you have two hours to answer two out of three questions. Read all the questions before making your choice.
Continue reading Exam
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This was the final lecture for the course, directed in particular at visiting students who will be taking an exam shortly: with some general information on assessment practices, advice on exam technique, and specific details on the exam structure for this course. I also went through some example questions from previous exams, circulated earlier.
Continue reading Lecture 20: Exam Review
What is it and how to improve it?
3–4pm Tuesday 29 November
This afternoon’s lecture completed the review of Rust with an exploration of how references and ownership interact with threaded concurrency.
Continue reading Lecture 18: Concurrency and More in Rust
Today’s lecture presented the core of Rust’s claim to provide safe systems programming: the use of move semantics, reference ownership and borrowing to provide precise and powerful memory-safe programming without runtime overhead. The features that provide this form a detailed deconstruction of what in other languages would be objects, but in Rust are carefully prised apart, each treated separately for their individual contribution. I also included a number of pictures of food to illustrate this.
I’m going to count this as course-relevant news. Barack Obama has announced this year’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Two of those recognised are for their work on advancing computer science: Grace Hopper and Margaret Hamilton.
Bill and Melinda Gates are in there, too, but that’s for the philanthropic work of the Gates Foundation rather than anything specifically related to computing or programming languages.
The Hack Programming Language:
Types for PHP
3–4pm Friday 18 November
Gaddum Lecture Theatre G.8
1 George Square
Facebook’s main website, ads platform, and much of its internal tooling is implemented in PHP, a language not known for elegance or best practice in programming language design. (See http://phpsadness.com, for example.) Over the last three years Facebook has embarked on an ambitious project to migrate its code base to Hack, which takes the syntax of PHP, removes the worst features, and adds static typing and modern constructs for asynchronous programming and typed UI components. In this talk I will focus on Hack’s type system, which combines ML-like type inference, object-oriented generics in the style of C# or Java, and flow-based typing of local variables.
Andrew Kennedy is a software engineer at Facebook London working on the Hack team. Before joining Facebook in January this year he spent 16 years at Microsoft Research, during which time he helped design and implement the generics feature for the .NET Common Language Runtime and polymorphic units-of-measure inference for the F# programming language, in addition to making many research contributions in type systems, semantics, formal verification and compilation.
These are the links I gave at the close of yesterday’s lecture: two APL-related things that came up last week and I think interesting to look at.
CertiKOS: Certified OS Kernels
This is a project out of the FLINT group at Yale, building large verified systems. CertiKOS is a toolkit for building operating system kernels, hypervisors, and embedded systems. It’s part of the DeepSpec initiative and linked to DARPA HACMS and SAFE.
Java Language and Platform Futures — A Sneak Peek
This is a talk by Brian Goetz at the Devoxx 2016 conference in Antwerp last week. He’s “Java Language Architect” at Oracle, and has been involved in a lot of the advances in the Java language over the last ten years. In the presentation he talks about some ideas that are under development to be part of the language in a year or two.
This final APL topic addresses programming for memory safety, and in particular the techniques used in the Rust language. Rust is a fairly recent language, designed for “safe systems programming”: providing low-level precise control for programmers, minimal execution overheads, and promises about correct use of memory and threads. In this short introductory lecture I covered the basics of Rust, and gave a few small indications of how its C-like appearance masks a quite substantial effort to do things differently.
Continue reading Lecture 15: The Rust Programming Language