CSSE 404: Compiler Construction Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Computer Science and Software Engineering Department
Spring 2016

Course catalog description

Theory and practice of programming language translation. Lexical analysis, syntax analysis, parser generators, abstract syntax, symbol tables, semantic analysis, intermediate languages, code generation, code optimization, run-time storage management, error handling. Students will construct a complete compiler for a small language.


Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:


Michael Wollowski




This course is heavily project oriented. You will be implementing, in small teams, a complete compiler for a small, non-trivial language. It is not unusual for such projects to include thousands of lines of code. As such, you are making a significant commitment in taking this course. But few programming projects will allow you to explore such a variety of challenges as writing a compiler. Completing a working compiler is incredibly satisfying.

Because of the amount of project effort required, you owe it to your teammate to stick with the course. While I cannot enforce it, I will be quite upset if anyone waits until as late as the drop deadline to drop this course, because to do so would cause serious harm to your partner’s experience in the course. Thus, if you wish to drop this course, please do so by Tuesday of 2nd week.

Because of the size of the project in this course, I plan to have regular class sessions only about three-fourths of the time after the first few weeks. Please take advantage of this time off from class to work with your partner on your project. You may, of course, take advantage of this time to get help from me on your project as well.


I plan to use the weighting scheme shown in the table below when assigning grades. Projects will be graded based on how well your programs perform against a set of tests at each milestone. I reserve the right to assign different project grades to two members of a pair if I have reason to believe that one member is not carrying a fair share of the load or is otherwise compromising the partnership.

Although they won't count directly towards your grade, I plan to suggest homework problems. I hope these suggested problems will help you both prepare for the exam and think about the issues that you'll need to tackle for your projects. Such optional problems are a common feature of graduate classes and are a great chance for you to take responsibility for your own learning.

Weight Criterium
65% Project
15% Exam
15% Assignments
5% Class citizenship

Late Policy

Students who struggled in this class in the past largely did so because they fell behind on the initial stages of the project. The project is almost completely cummulative; failure to complete one stage will prevent completion of subsequent stages. The late policy is designed to encourage you to submit work on time, while still giving credit for work completed somewhat late.

Your earned score on project milestones will be subject to the following multipliers:

Time Handed In Grade Multiplier
On time 100%
< 24 hours late (1 day) 90%
< 36 hours late (1.5 days) 80%
< 48 hours late (2 days) 70%
< 72 hours late (3 days) 50%
< 96 hours late (4 days) 25%
≥ 96 hours late (4 days) 0%

Late test cases will not be accepted. Graduating seniors will not be able to submit the final project late, since grades are due at 9 AM on Monday.


The Institute policy on academic misconduct states that:
"Rose-Hulman expects its students to be responsible adults and to behave at all times with honor and integrity."

Exam and homework will be done on an individual basis. The simple rule of thumb for individual work is:

Never give or use someone else's code or written answers, unless it is a team assignment and the person is on your team.

Such exchanges are definitely cheating and not cooperation. The departmental statement on academic honesty has more detailed advice.

Plagiarism or cheating will result in a grade of an "F" in the course and they will also be report to the Dean of Students.