University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
CS200: Computer Science, Spring 2003

Notes: Friday 17 January 2002

Notes and Questions

What is a formal system?

What is the difference between a formal system and a language?

Languages are made of:

When learning a foreign language, which of primitives, means of combination or means of abstraction is hardest to learn?

Who was Admiral Grace Hopper and what did she do?

Compiler: A program that translates between two languages, usually from a high-level programming language to machine code.

What is the difference between a compiler and an interpreter?

Why did John Backus want a precise way of describing languages?


Martin Luther King Links
Why is Edgar Shannon the only past-president of UVa with nothing named after him?

How would President Shannon have handled the Pep Band incident?

Frankly, we didn't have the vaguest idea how the things would work out in detail... We struck out simply to optimze the object program, the running time, because most people at that time believed you really couldn't do that kind of thing.
John Backus (on FORTRAN language and compiler, quoted in 1966)

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - nothing more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master that's all."

Through the Looking Glass — Chapter VI: Humpty Dumpty, Lewis Carroll

CS 200

CS 200: Computer Science
Department of Computer Science
University of Virginia
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