• Offered by Research School of Computer Science
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Computer Science
  • Areas of interest Computer Science

The course is built around an investigation of what programming languages are, and the notion of programs as artefacts. Two key aspects of the study of programming languages are their semantics, and their syntax.

We will survey some of the fundamental principles of the semantics and computational behaviour of programs, including the lambda calculus, types and fixed-points. Rigorous proofs of properties of programs, such as are needed for safety-critical software, or for program transformations such as are carried out by optimising compilers, require a formal description of the 'meaning' and behaviour of programs. We will study two of the dominant approaches: denotational semantics and opertional semantics. In each case, standard proof techniques will be developed and applied.

The syntax of programming languages is routinely defined by well-understood means, in terms of formal grammars and their relation to certain classes of automata. We will investigate the algorithms underlying standard automata-bsed compiler generators and make practical use of them to construct simle translators.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students who succeed in all aspects of this course will be able to:

  • manipulate and generate lambda-terms, extending a system such as Church numerals; check and assign types to lambda terms.
  • solve simple recursive equations by determining the limit of the Kleene fixpoint construction.
  • design and extend operational and denotational definitions for basic programming language constructs.
  • prove properties of programs by various formal means, including structural and fixpoint induction.
  • demonstrate correspondences between grammars, languages and automata.
  • use standard parser and lexer generator tools to construct and implement translations such as a very simple compiler.

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Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying Master of Computing 7705 or Master of Computing 7706.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $1980
2004 $2088
2005 $2088
2006 $2088
2007 $2088
2008 $2190
2009 $2916
2010 $2916
2011 $2946
2012 $2946
2013 $2946
2014 $2952
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3450
2004 $3450
2005 $3534
2006 $3618
2007 $3618
2008 $3618
2009 $3618
2010 $3750
2011 $3756
2012 $3756
2013 $3756
2014 $3762
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3442 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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