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Modern Programming Languages: A Practical Introduction [Paperback]

Adam Brooks Webber


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Book Description

July 28 2010 1590282507 978-1590282502 2nd Revised edition
This book introduces the concepts of diverse programming languages for students who have already mastered basic programming in at least one language. It is suitable for use in an undergraduate course for computer science and computer engineering majors. It treats all the knowledge units in the area of programming languages that appear in the ACM's Computer Science Curriculum 2008, and introduces the core units thoroughly. It gives programming exercises in three different language paradigms. Philosophically, it is in complete agreement with the ACM report. This book has two distinct kinds of chapters: practical and theoretical. The practical chapters are self-contained primers in three very different programming languages - ML, Java, and Prolog - at least two of which will be new languages for almost all students at this level. Students receive a quick introduction to the linguistically unique parts of each language and enough simple programming exercises to develop a feel for the programming paradigm of the language. There are excellent free implementations of all these languages available on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Unix, and Macintosh; the book's Web site at http://www.webber-labs.com/mpl.html has instructions on how to get them. The theoretical chapters present the underlying principles of programming languages. They are interleaved with the practical chapters in an order that allows ideas to be illustrated using examples in the newly learned languages and allows theoretical topics to be covered when their relevance to programming practice will be most evident. For example, Chapter 23 deals with formal semantics by starting with simple interpreters written in Prolog. These interpreters lead naturally to language definitions using big-step operational semantics. That is why formal semantics occurs so late in the book: only at the end of the Prolog tutorial are students ready to be led from Prolog exercises to this related, abstract topic.

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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for an undergraduate programming languages course Nov. 26 2011
By Peter Drake - Published on Amazon.com
I used this book teaching a course in programming languages structures at a small, liberal arts college in the northwestern USA (located not far from the publisher). I have generally been quite pleased with the text and plan to use it again.

PROS:

- Just the right level of detail. There is enough here to let students do a few things in each of the three major languages covered, without overburdening them.

- Very clearly written, in a friendly style. Alternating between "practical" and "theoretical" chapters was a good decision. As a minor point, there are surprisingly few typographical errors.

- Relatively inexpensive, as these things go.

CONS:

- Could use more exercises, but that's true of almost all textbooks.

- Some students argue that the title is a misnomer. Two of the languages covered in depth (ML and Prolog) are nearly 40 years old and not widely used or well supported. Perhaps Scheme would be a better choice for a functional language.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok Dec 8 2013
By dans ltetravel - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Required textbook for school. Probably wouldn't have read it if is wasn't required reading material. Read it if you have nothing else on the shelf.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Outdated, poorly written, and poorly edited. Sept. 1 2012
By Joseph - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If by "modern" you mean languages that were invented in 1972, 1973, and 1991 then, by all means, this book contains modern programming languages. Back in the real world, however, ML and Prolog haven't been used for years; the list of languages they influenced in Wikipedia is almost as long as section dedicated to the languages themselves. If the theory behind these particular languages wanted to be taught, one of those "modern" equivalents could have been used instead with the bonus of actually being useful in today's world.

The book is is poorly written: the last chapter discusses the history of programming languages, and makes analogies to The Bible. In one section the author says language a beget language b beget language c, etc. He also traces the whole history of programming back to ancient Babylon; a vast stretch for anyone. These two things just doesn't make sense in the context of a programming textbook.

My third complaint is poor editing (I don't want to accuse the author of not knowing what he is talking about, although that could be the case) an extract: "Java language systems usually compile to an intermediate code. A particular intermediate code, known as the _Java Virtual machine_, is supported by many different interpreters on many different physical machines. For example, almost every Web browser has an interpreter for the Java virtual machine." So many things are wrong with that... The JVM isn't an intermediate code, it is a Virtual Machine, as the name implies; much is wrong with Java, but they did get their terminology correct. Java Bytecode is the intermediate code. Plus web browsers don't have Java interpreters...JavaScript, yes, but for Java they use the standard JVM embedded, thus the reason for Java security issues.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Professor says buy this book ... Oct. 2 2013
By C. Faraone - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
... so you buy the book. It wasn't up to me to pick one I liked.

But is was the best price on the internet first week of the semester. With Amazon Prime I expected to wait no more than two days. It took one!

What's to complain about?

Price of tuition, anyone?
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