CompSci 142 / CSE 142  Winter 2018 | News | Course Reference | Schedule | Project Guide
This webpage was adapted from Alex Thornton’s offering of CS 141

CompSci 142 / CSE 142: Interpreters and Compilers
Winter 2018,  8– 9:20am Tue Thu,  HH 178

Instructor information

Harry Xu
Office: DBH 3212
Office hour:
Thursday 9:30-11:00am

Contacting me: I prefer to be reached by email.

Teaching assistant

In addition to me, this course is staffed by two teaching assistants and a reader, who will be attending the lab sections, and will be the primary point of contact with regard to the grading of projects.

Aftab Hussain (, TA
Office: DBH 3241
Office hour:
 Wednesday 11:00am-12:00pm

Times and places


The lecture meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-9:20am in HH 178. Given the course's size, attendance is not graded, but we certainly recommend it. (Naturally, attendance is required on the days when exams are held, which are listed in the Schedule.)


There are three lab sections, meeting on Fridays at the following times and locations.

While you are required to be enrolled in a lab section, you are generally free to attend lab sections whenever you need them, regardless of which lab section you are enrolled in, with this caveat: you will only be guaranteed a seat in your enrolled lab section — and, hence, it is possible that you may occasionally be asked to leave to make room for someone else if we are beyond full capacity and you are not officially enrolled in a section.

While it is not a required part of the course, and nothing will be graded in the labs this quarter, attendance does offer some significant benefits:

The labs will begin meeting on Friday, January 12.


Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools,  by Aho, Lam, Seth, and Ullman, known as "The Dragon Book" (Second Edition)     

Slides and other materials

All slides and other materials can be found on the EEE course dropbox.

Obtaining additional assistance

Asking questions of course stuff

You can most easily get course questions answered by coming to lecture, a lab section, or office hours and asking them. I am happy to help you in person when I'm available. You can also ask questions by sending email to me or your TA (or both); we check our email frequently throughout the day, so you can usually get an answer to course-related questions within a few hours (and often much more quickly). If the questions require a complex or lengthy response, we may ask you to see one of us in person. As projects approach their due date, particularly on days when projects are due, we begin to receive quite a bit of email all at once, so we may not be able to respond to all messages before the project is due. We aren't ignoring you on purpose, but unfortunately it's not always possible for the relatively small course staff to answer questions from a large number of students at once.

Accommodations for disabilities

Any students who feel that they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss these specific needs. Also, contact the Disability Services Center online at (949) 824-7494 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations, such as alternative test-taking environments or note-taking services, can be arranged for you in a timely way.


Weights of graded artifacts

Your course grade will be determined from the weighted combination of your scores on each of six projects, one Midterm, and one Final Exam. The weights of each of these are:

Determining final grades

Course grades will be curved. My grading policy is as follows:

The top 10% students will get an A; 10%-20% will get an A-; 20%-30% B+; 30%-40% B; 40%-50% B-; 50%-60% C+; 60%-100% C, C-, D.

A student will fail the class only if both of the following conditions hold:

(a) He/she is in the bottom 5%, and (b) His/her overall grade is below 60.

If you're curious about how you're doing in the course, I'm happy to discuss your estimated grade at any time. It's generally best to have this conversation in person, so that we can explore issues other than just the raw numbers; I'm happy to have this conversation at any time that I'm available, and I'm also glad to do it via email if we can't find a mutually available time.

Dropping the course or changing grade option

Through the end of Week 2 (Friday, January 19), you may drop the course by simply going to WebReg and dropping it. If you wish to drop the course after that date, you will need to use the Enrollment Exceptions system to request a drop; I do not have the final say over those, ultimately, as the Dean of the Bren School (and your major, if you are majoring in something outside of the Bren School) must approve them. It is not generally the case that an exception will be accepted simply because you're not doing well in a course, though extenuating circumstances are certainly considered.

Similarly, changing your grade option (to Pass/NotPass or back again) can be done via WebReg through the end of Week 2 (Friday, January 19), after which you must use the Enrollment Exceptions system to request the change. As with exceptional drops, you must receive approval from the appropriate Deans.

Academic honesty

The policy—avoid cheating!

As CompSci 142 or CSE 142 students, you are expected to know and follow the academic honesty policies of both the Bren School of ICS and the University as a whole. Please take a few minutes to read the policies, which can be found at this link. 

All of your project work is expected to be completed solely by you. Worker in larger groups and/or sharing of code or solutions between students is not permitted. Note that "high-level discussion of course material for better understanding" is permitted and encouraged, but when it comes time to sit down and write code or other graded artifacts, that is expected to be done by you and you alone. All submissions are compared to one another using an automated plagiarism detection system. This system is extraordinarily good at finding similarities between submissions, even when there are superficial differences. (Note that we also compare your submissions to those submitted during previous quarters whenever one of these assignments was given during a previous quarter, so it is an exceedingly bad idea to turn in, or even refer to, code or solutions written by a friend of yours who took the course already.)

Since all of your work is expected to be completed solely by you (and your partner, on paired assignments), you will be held responsible even if you plagiarize only a small portion of someone else's work.

Academic honesty is a two-way street. Providing your code to other students for them to turn in as their own is not permitted any more than turning in someone else's code. Resist the temptation to give code to your friends "for reference." Based on my experience, I can say that your "friends" may very well betray you and turn it in, anyway, and then you'll have a lot to answer for.

Naturally, the Midterm and Final Exam are also expected to be individual efforts. Dishonest behavior during an exam will not be tolerated.

Violators of academic honesty policies are subject to the penalties described in the Bren School of ICS policy. They are also subject to an immediate course grade of F, and you will not be allowed to drop the course to avoid the grade. Also be aware that a single documented case of academic dishonesty may preclude you from switching into computing majors, registering for computing minors, joining the ICS Honors Program, and graduating from a computing major with honors.


The instructor is grateful to Alex Thornton, who has generously provided related course materials.