Princeton University
Computer Science Dept.

Computer Science 333:
Advanced Programming Techniques

Spring 2015

Brian Kernighan

Fri May 8 15:31:16 EDT 2015


Thanks to everyone for four days of great demos. By the way, our non-student visitors included former community auditors and others from a variety of places both on and off campus. Most of them have technical backgrounds in computing, and often have had significant managerial roles as well. When they tell me that you are doing impressive work, it means something.

Now the final bit: here are instructions for final submission by 5 PM on Tuesday, May 12. These echo what was said earlier, but with some minor revisions, so please read carefully. And watch this space for further info about how we will test phone apps.


Reminder: Laptop Policy: No laptops, phones or tablets except for taking notes and other class purposes. Regrettably, computers and phones appear to be primarily used for email, chat, YouTube, Twitter, Google, solitaire, poker, eBay, Facebook, and similarly compelling diversions, all of which distract you, your neighbors, and me. (Additions to this list are welcome; I can't keep up.)

Lecture notes:    2/3    2/5    2/10-12    2/17    2/19    2/24    2/26    3/3    3/5    3/11    3/24-3/26    3/31: Andrea Matwyshyn    4/2    4/7    4/9: Adam Ernst    4/14    4/16: Bjarne Stroustrup    4/21: Al Aho, Peter Weinberger    4/23: Carter Cleveland    4/28    4/30   

Assignments:    1         2         3         4         5        

Project:    preliminary description     previous projects     comments from previous projects     Design document instructions and template     CAS authentication     CAS tar file     the week after break (3/23)     Project groups and TAs (3/23)     Project demo information (4/7)     Last-minute demo advice (4/27)     Demo schedule

Readings:    general bibliography     language tutorials    

Old stuff:    Piazza     playlist     survey     xkcd on editors     Epigrams in Programming     xkcd on regular expressions     another language cartoon     awktest.tar     Hack class information     Javascript PC interpreter     How SQLite3 is tested     SQL injection attacks     Swing components     Another take on UI design     The Mother of all Demos     Adam Ernst '10     Bjarne Stroustrup    Artsy    More on projects   

Dates:    All dates are subject to minor changes.

	Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
Feb	 1  2  3  4  5  6  7	first class
	 8  9 10 11 12 13 14	assignment 1 due
	15 16 17 18 19 20 21	assignment 2 due	
	22 23 24 25 26 27 28	assignment 3 due
Mar	 1  2  3  4  5  6  7	assignment 4 due 
	 8  9 10 11 12 13 14	design document due
	15 16 17 18 19 20 21	spring break -- don't waste it
	22 23 24 25 26 27 28	weekly TA meetings start this week; assignment 5 due
	29 30 31
Apr	          1  2  3  4
	 5  6  7  8  9 10 11	project prototype
	12 13 14 15 16 17 18
	19 20 21 22 23 24 25	alpha test
	26 27 28 29 30		last class
May	                1  2	beta test
	 3  4  5  6  7  8  9	demo days
	10 11 12 13 14 15 16	Dean's date: projects due by 5pm
	17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Course Summary

This is a course about the practice of programming, an attempt to expose students to the development of real programs. Programming is more than just writing code. Programmers must also assess tradeoffs, choose among design alternatives, debug and test, improve performance, and maintain software written by themselves and others. At the same time, they must be concerned with compatibility, robustness, and reliability, while meeting specifications. Students will have the opportunity to develop these skills by working on their own code and in group projects.

During the first half of the semester, there will be a programming assignment each week, which should take perhaps 5-6 hours to complete. During the second half of the semester, students will work in groups of 3 to 5 on a project that will involve a substantial amount of design and implementation.

COS 333 is about programming, not about a specific language. The course will assume that you are very familiar with C and Java, and will include excursions into a variety of languages like shells, Awk, Python, Javascript, C++ and Go. There will be significant emphasis on tools, both how to use them and how they are designed and built. Students must be comfortable with C and Java programming and with Unix, and able to write modest-sized programs that work. COS 217 and 226 are prerequisites.


This syllabus is always subject to change. Each topic will take roughly one week; there's no guarantee that we will cover all of them, nor in any particular order.

This is meant to be more than a laundry list, however. Each section will also discuss issues of design, implementation, testing, performance, portability, and other software engineering concerns, and these will also be part of the programming assignments. With luck there will be a handful of guest lecturers as well.

There is one required text: The Practice of Programming, by Kernighan and Pike; you should also know basic Unix tools and usage as described in, for example, The Unix Programming Environment. Other readings will be posted. The books listed in this bibliography are also worth looking at; they cover a wide variety of material related to programming.

Tuesday and Thursday 11:00-12:20, somewhere awful

Brian Kernighan, 311 CS Building, 609-258-2089, bwk at Depending on class size, I may set up regular office hours once things get rolling; alternatively, send mail to make an appointment, or just drop in if my door is open, which it usually is.

Teaching Assistants and office hours:
    Christopher Moretti (cmoretti) 208 CS, Thu 2-4
    Elba Garza (elba) 213 CS, Thu 4-6
    Amy Tai (amytai) 317 CS, Fri 10-12
    Tom Wu (tongbinw) 001B CS, Fri 1-3
    Kelvin Zou (xuanz) 314 CS, Fri 3-5


Half a dozen programming exercises will be assigned during the first half of the term; each is intended to take about 5-6 hours, but is sure to take longer unless you are careful.

Assignments are together worth about 30-35 percent of the course grade. Assignments are generally due by midnight on Fridays unless there are extraordinary circumstances. For the record, extracurricular activities and heavy workloads in other classes don't count as "extraordinary", no matter how unexpected or important or time-consuming. Assignments will generally be posted on Tuesday and due at midnight on Friday 10 days later. This leaves enough time that we will not be able to grant extensions except in case of documented medical or other serious issues.

If you submit your work late, we will give you credit for it on this scale:


The second half of the semester will be devoted to a group project. The project can be done with whatever combination of languages and techniques makes most sense; one of the goals of the project is to encourage careful tradeoffs among alternatives, and planning of interfaces to minimize dependencies among components. The project is a good place to explore personal interests further than can reasonably be covered in class.

The project will have frequent checkpoints along the way for which you will have to prepare status reports, preliminary designs, and the like. There will be a public presentation and demo at the end, a written writeup, and submission of a system for testing and evaluation. All of these are graded.

The project will be worth about 60-65 percent of the course grade; it will be shared equally among group members, with the possibility of negative adjustments for members who fail to contribute their fair share.

You must complete all assignments and project requirements to pass the course. Furthermore, the class is so large that we don't have the resources to nag and make special arrangements; you are responsible for meeting all the requirements without reminders.


Attendance and participation is potentially worth up to 10 percent of the course grade. Attendance is mandatory; unexcused absences will be penalized.

Regular class attendance is required and class participation helps. Unexcused absences are grounds for a failing grade regardless of other performance. This means you.

Laptop Policy

Please, no laptops, phones or tablets except for taking notes and other class purposes. Regrettably, computers and phones appear to be primarily used for email, chat, YouTube, Twitter, Google, solitaire, poker, eBay, Facebook, and similarly compelling diversions, all of which distract you, your neighbors, and me. (Additions to this list are welcome; I can't keep up.)

Collaboration Policy for Assignments:

(This policy on collaboration in assignments is adapted from the COS 217 web page.) Programming, like composition, is an individual creative process. Individuals must reach their own understanding of the problem and discover a path to its solution. During this time, discussions with friends are encouraged. However, when the time comes to write the code that solves the problem, such discussions are no longer appropriate -- the program must be your own work (although you may ask teaching assistants for help in debugging). If you have a question about how to use some language or operating system feature, you can certainly ask your friends or the teaching assistants. The course newsgroup is also intended for sharing insights on the meaning of questions, terminology, and so on.

Do not, under any circumstances, copy another person's program for an assignment. Writing code for use by another person or using another person's code in any form violates the University's academic regulations.

Examples of unacceptable behavior for assignments include:

The program you turn in must be your work. You may get help from the instructor or a TA after you have started writing code, but not from other students. Computer science assignments are not like physics or math problem sets: there is no single right answer. Each student is expected to come up with his or her own individual solution.

If you plan to do something that you are not absolutely sure is legal, ask first. Ignorance of this policy will not be accepted as an excuse for your actions.

You are responsible for ensuring that your files are not readable by your classmates. We recommend doing your COS 333 assignments on your own machine or in a private subdirectory, i.e.:

	% mkdir cos333
	% chmod 700 cos333

Collaboration Policy for Projects:

Projects will often use open source code and other publicly available material as building blocks or as the basis for modification and adaptation. This is permitted and indeed encouraged, but such code must be properly attributed, and the project as a whole must be substantially your own work. Please consult with the instructor if you are uncertain about a proposed course of action.

Project groups are encouraged to share insights and information about how things work, how to get things done, and other aspects of programming knowledge.