Course Webpage for Compilers (P423, P523, E313, and E513)

Indiana University, Fall 2023

High-level programming languages like Racket and Python make it easier to program compared to low-level languages such as x86 assembly code. But how do high-level languages work? There’s a big gap between them and machine instructions for modern computers. In this class you learn how to translate Racket or Python programs (your choice!) all the way to x86 assembly language.

Traditionally, compiler courses teach one phase of the compiler at a time, such as parsing, semantic analysis, and register allocation. The problem with that approach is it is difficult to understand how the whole compiler fits together and why each phase is designed the way it is. Instead, each week we implement a progressively larger subset of the input language. The very first subset is a tiny language of integer arithmetic, and by the time we are done the language includes first-class functions.

Prerequisites: Fluency in Racket or Python is highly recommended as students will do a lot of programming in one of those languages. Prior knowledge of an assembly language helps, but is not required.

Textbook: Essentials of Compilation: An Incremental Approach in Racket/Python

If you have suggestions for improvement, please either send an email to Jeremy or, even better, make edits to a branch of the book and perform a pull request. The book is at the following location on github:


Lecture: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:15pm, Informatics Building (Myles Brand Hall), Room I 107.

Office hours



Course grades are based on the following items. For the weighting, see the Canvas panel on the right-hand side of this web page. Grading will take into account any technology problems that arrise, i.e., you won’t fail the class because your internet went out.


Organize into teams of 2-4 students. Assignments will be due bi-weekly on Mondays at 11:59pm. Teams that include one or more graduate students are required to complete one challenge exercise per assignment.

Assignment descriptions are posted on Canvas. Turn in your assignments by submitting your code to the autograder. There is a Racket and Python version of each assignment. Submit your compiler file, either compiler.rkt or compiler.py depending on the language you are using.

Assignments will be graded based on how many test cases they succeed on. Partial credit will be given for each “pass” of the compiler. Some of the tests are in the public support code (see Resources below). The testing will be done on a linux (ubuntu) machine. The testing will include both new tests and all of the tests from prior assignments.

You may request feedback on your assignments prior to the due date. Just submit your work to the autograder and send us email.

Students are responsible for understanding the entire assignment and all of the code that their team produces. The midterm and final exam are designed to test a student’s understanding of the assignments.

Students are free to discuss and get help on the assignments from anyone or anywhere. When posting questions on Slack, it is OK to post your code.

In contrast, for quizzes and exams, students are asked to work alone. The quizzes and exams are closed book.

Late assignment policy: Assignments may be turned in up to one week late with a penalty of 10%.

Slack Chat/Messaging: Workspace ( signup using your iu email address).


Day Lecture Topic Assignment Due
Aug. 22 Introduction  
Aug. 24 From Lvar to x86  
Aug. 29 Uniquify, Remove Complex Operands, Explicate Control, video  
Aug. 31 Explicate Control through Prelude & Conclusion, video  
Sep. 5 Register Allocation, Introduction and Liveness Integers and Variables, submit in Racket or Python
Sep. 7 Code Review: Integers and Variables  
Sep. 12 Register Allocation: graph coloring Integers and Variables, late deadline
Sep. 14 L_If language, type checking, and x86_If  
Sep. 18   Register Allocation, submit in Racket or Python
Sep. 19 Conditionals and Explicate Control  
Sep. 21 Conditionals: Select Instr., Reg. Alloc., Opt. Jumps  
Sep. 25   Register Allocation, late deadline
Sep. 26 Loops and Dataflow Analysis  
Sep. 28 Loops: RCO, Explicate, Challenge  
Oct. 2   Booleans and Conditionals, submit in Racket or Python
Oct. 3 Code Review: Conditionals  
Oct. 5 Tuples and Garbage Collection  
Oct. 9   Booleans and Conditionals, late deadline
Oct. 10 Tuples and GC, cont’d  
Oct. 12 Arrays, Structs, Generational GC  
Oct. 16   Loops, submit in Racket or Python
Oct. 17 Review for Midterm Exam  
Oct. 19 Midterm Exam  
Oct. 23   Loops, late deadline
Oct. 24 Compiling Functions to x86  
Oct. 26 Compiling Functions, cont’d  
Oct. 30   Tuples, submit in Racket or Python
Oct. 31 Code Review: Loops  
Nov. 2 Lexically Scoped Functions  
Nov. 6   Tuples, late deadline
Nov. 7 Code Review: Tuples  
Nov. 9 Dynamic Typing  
Nov. 13   Functions, submit in Racket or Python
Nov. 14 Gradual Typing  
Nov. 16 Generics  
Nov. 17   Due: Proposal for Final Project
Nov. 20
Nov. 24
Thanksgiving Break  
Nov. 27   Functions, late deadline
Nov. 28 Code Review: Functions  
Nov. 30 Objects  
Dec. 5 Inlining  
Dec. 7 Review for Final Exam  
Dec. 8   Final Project, see canvas assignment description (no late deadline)
Dec. 12 Final Exam 3-5pm  


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As your instructor, one of my responsibilities is to create a positive learning environment for all students. Title IX and IU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy prohibit sexual misconduct in any form, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and dating and domestic violence. If you have experienced sexual misconduct, or know someone who has, the University can help.

If you are seeking help and would like to speak to someone confidentially, you can make an appointment with:

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