Compilers (CS362 2002F)

SamR's Answers to the Introductory Survey (2001S)

As I start each class, I like to learn a little bit about my students and their expectations for the course so that I can both know and teach them better. Since I'm asking you to prepare answers to this survey, it is only fair that I prepare my own. This document provides a hybrid set of answers to all (most?) of my surveys this semester.


Samuel A. SamR Rebelsky


Undergraduate: Mathematics
Graduate: Computer Science

Where are you from?

I was born in Newton, MA, a suburb of Boston. Since then, I've lived in Chicago (11 years), New Hampshire and Maine (4 years), and Iowa (nearly 4 years).

Tell me a little bit about your background with computers.

Hmmm ... I may be too old to remember. We had an Apple ][ when I was in high school. When I got to college, I quickly became enamored of using the school's computers (a DEC-20 running Tops-20 and an Amdahl running MVS) and ended up as a computing assistant. Since that time, I've gone on to take and teach too many courses in computer science. These days, I like to work on Macintoshes and Unix (and Linux) boxes. I've never become comfortable with Microsoft Windows. And even after all that background, I still get frustrated with these things.

What courses are you taking this term? Please include meeting times. I prefer course names to course abbreviations.

During Spring 2001, I'm teaching CSC151, Fundamentals of Computer Science I (MWThF 9:00-9:50) and CSC362, Compilers (MWF 11:00-11:50 plus labs on Thursdays). I'm also supervising a research project on trails on the World-Wide Web and supporting a very large group independent on Web software design. You can also consult my schedule for more information.

What other CS courses (or related courses) have you taken?

Too many to list. At Grinnell, I've taught Tutorial (Hypertext: Some Technology, Some Implications), CSC103 (Programming and Problem Solving), CSC151 (Fundamentals of Computer Science I), CSC152 (Fundamentals of Computer Science II), CSC223 (Software Design), CSC302 (Programming Language Concepts), CSC362 (Compilers), and CSC364 (Computer Networks). I've also taught a number of independent studies at Grinnell.

What, if any, computer languages do you know?

Too many to enumerate. I once tried to list the languages I know with a C-like syntax. They include: K&R C, ANSI C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Perl, and C Shell. (Switching between them is thrilling, since they often differ in key aspects, such as valid commenting style.) My preferred language varies from month to month. At one time, I did a lot of programming in Haskell and Scheme. These days, I'm doing a lot of programming in Java and Perl. This semester, I'm teaching Java, Pascal, Perl, Scheme, and SQL as parts of various courses.

Why are you taking this course?

I teach CS151 because (1) I enjoy teaching; (2) I value the chance to meet prospective CS majors early in their carrers; and (3) I like meeting teaching both majors and nonmajors and CS151 usually provides a nice mix.

I teach CS364 because (1) I enjoy teaching; (2) I like teaching upper-level courses; (3) I think compilers are one of the areas that best combines theory and practice.

What do you expect to learn or gain from this course?

New perspectives (every group of students provides some new perspectives).

What are your biggest concerns for this course?

That I'll be overwhelmed by the time constraints.

What is your favorite or most productive time to study?

In college and grad school, I found mornings good times. Now that I have two children, I'm not sure that I have productive times.

What do you like most about Grinnell?

The small, relatively informal, atmosphere.

What do you like least about Grinnell (or what do you dislike most about Grinnell)?

The isolation. When I have free time (not too often), I like to rummage through used book stores and the cheapo bins at record stores. While we have a used book store, I miss the cheapo bins. (And no, the Internet is not the same, although I'm finding the used book services addicting.)

What is the best course you have taken at Grinnell so far? Who taught that course? (Since I'm still relatively new, I'd like to know who I might try to learn from.)

I've enjoyed teaching CS152 more than any other course. It's hard to choose between the sessions of CS152 that I've taught.

My wife was once told that most teachers teach like someone they learned from. After thinking about it for awhile, I realized that I base many things I do on Paul Salley of the University of Chicago, from whom I took Math 207-209. Gerald Mast at the UofC may have been my favorite other teacher there. I also learned a lot about teaching from Don Crabb and Stu Kurtz, both of the computer science department.

Most surveys like this ask you to list your five favorite books, movies, TV shows, CDs, chia animals, buildings on campus, professors, or whatever. I'll give you a littl emore freedom. Pick a class of objects (it can be one that I listed, it can be one that I didn't list), and list your five favorite objects in that class.

Tell me a little more about yourself. You might describe hobbies, interests, goals, whatever.

I'm 36, which some of you seem to think is relatively young and others of you think is relatively old. My wife, Michelle, and I have been married for thirteen years. We have two children, William and Jonathan.
I may be one of the least organized people you ever meet. Take a look at my office later this semester, and you'll understand what I mean.
I love teaching (and also very much enjoy doing research on hypermedia systems) and have found Grinnell a great place to be. My long-term goal is to be at Grinnell.
I've been known to wear a full-body Tigger costume on Halloween.

What other questions should I have asked on this form? (You don't have to come up with any; I just like to find ways to improve my introductory questionnaire.)

If I could think of other questions, I would have added them.

Since I'm asking you all of these questions, it's only fair that you get to ask me some questions. What, if anything, would you like to know about me?

Why do I bother filling out these sample answers? Does anyone read them?



Thursday, 24 August 2000

Monday, 10 January 2000


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