Lecture 1: What’s So Important About Language?

Title slideThis opening lecture presented some context for studying programming languages, and what might inspire research into new ones. You can read some of this in the slides which are also available by clicking on the title slide image to the right.

Thanks to everyone who helped come up with a list of different programming languages, possible properties of languages, and reasons why you might choose one over another. Other issues mentioned include what impact programmability has on computers; how languages might shape how we program; and how we shape programming languages themselves. The slides also include practical information about how the course will run, coursework, and homework for Friday.

Link: Slides for Lecture 1


The next lecture will be at 1510 on Friday. It’s about the use of types in programming languages. We probably won’t be in George Square Lecture Theatre again: I’ll post here and send email when I’ve found a new venue. Before then, follow the instructions.

1. Read This

Read the Wikipedia article on the History of programming languages. (If you find it’s missing something, you can fix that.)

2. Do This

Pick a programming language you don’t already know, and find out the following.

  • Does it assign types to distinguish between things like numbers, strings, or functions?
  • Does it check these are used correctly?
  • How does it do that? When does it do that?

Bring your answers along to the lecture.