Journal of Functional Programming

EDUCATIONAL PEARL

“Little language” project modules

JOHN CLEMENTSa1 and KATHI FISLERa2

a1 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA (e-mail: clements@brinckerhoff.org)

a2 Worcester Polytechnic Institute (e-mail: kfisler@cs.wpi.edu)

Abstract

Many computer science departments are debating the role of programming languages in the curriculum. These discussions often question the relevance and appeal of programming-languages content for today's students. In our experience, domain-specific, “little languages” projects provide a compelling illustration of the importance of programming-language concepts. This paper describes projects that prototype mainstream applications such as PowerPoint, TurboTax, and animation scripting. We have used these exercises as modules in non-programming languages courses, including courses for first year students. Such modules both encourage students to study linguistic topics in more depth and provide linguistic perspective to students who might not otherwise be exposed to the area.