Class MeetingsMon + Wed 2:00-3:15pm in CIWW 102
First LectureJan 23, 2017
Last LectureMay 8, 2017
InstructorThomas Wies
Office60FA 403
Office HoursWed 3:15-4:30pm, or by appointment
Teaching AssistantsXi Huang, office hour: Thu 5:10-6:10pm in CIWW 412
Sanketh Purwar, office hour: Mon 11am-12pm in CIWW 412


Object-oriented (OO) programming has emerged as a significant software development methodology. The goal of this course is to learn how to build and evolve large-scale programs using object-oriented programming. To this end, the course introduces the important concepts of object-oriented languages and design, and explores how these concepts are implemented.

Prerequisites: Computer Systems Organization (CSCI-UA 201).

Acknowledgments: This course is based on the Object-Oriented Programming course designed by Robert Grimm.


In exploring object-oriented programming, we investigate three questions:

  • Design: How do we think about a program in terms of objects? To answer this question, we explore CRC cards, UML, and design patterns.
  • Language Primitives: How do we express object orientation? To answer this question, we explore classes, interfaces, inheritance, method dispatch, generics, operator overloading, and reflection.
  • Language Implementation: How do we realize object-oriented primitives? To answer this question, we explore virtual method dispatch and automatic memory management in detail.

Design and primitives matter because they represent the essence of object-oriented programming. Implementation matters because it enables us to debug object-oriented programs and tune their performance.


The focus of our exploration of object-oriented programming is a translator from Java to C++. You design, implement, and evaluate your own translator as a term-long project, working in teams of four to five students. In fact, you build two versions of your translator, taking half a term for each version and presenting your work in class on completion of each version. To make the project manageable, your translator only translates a restricted subset of Java into an even more restricted subset of C++; though the second version covers more functionality than the first version. I also provide you with “helper” code, notably for parsing and pretty printing program source files.

Each group elects a speaker, who coordinates with the members of the group and with me. A new speaker is elected at the middle of the term.

Your group’s midterm and final project presentations address three main issues:

  • What are the design and implementation of your translator?
  • How do you ensure that the translator meets the project requirements? Notably, how do you convince yourself and others that the translator actually works?
  • What was easy, hard, and/or surprising and how did that impact your translator?

You have a 12 minute slot for your presentation, which includes a demo of your translator and time to set up your laptop.



We will use Piazza for course-related discussions and announcements. I encourage you to ask questions when you are struggling to understand a concept - you can even do so anonymously.


Group project (50%), individual assignments (25%), final exam (25%).

Late Submission Policy

Late submissions of homework solutions will be graded with a 10% penalty per day of late submission. Solutions will not be graded if they are submitted later than one week after the specified deadline.

Academic Integrity

Please review the departmental academic integrity policy. In this course, you may discuss assignments with other students, but the work you turn in must be your own. Do not copy another student's work. You must do the projects as a group but not with other groups and without consulting previous years' students, code, etc. You should help other students and groups on specific technical issues but you must acknowledge such interactions. Copying code or other work without giving appropriate acknowledgment is a serious offense with consequences ranging from no credit to potential expulsion.




This course relies on three different programming languages:

  • The source language is the language of programs serving as inputs to the translator; it is a restricted version of Java.
  • The target language is the language of outputs of the translator; it is a restricted version of C++.
  • The translator language (for lack of a better term) is the language of the translator itself; it is the full Java 5.0 née JDK 1.5 language.

In more detail, the source language is Java without nested classes, anonymous classes, interfaces, enums, annotations, generics, the enhanced for loop, varargs, and automatic boxing and unboxing. Furthermore, the source language omits support for synchronization, i.e., synchronized methods and statements, and strict arithmetic operations, i.e. the strictfp modifier. It also omits support for transient and volatile fields as well as native methods. Finally, you may omit method overloading but not method overriding for the first version of the translator.

The target language is C++ without virtual methods, inheritance, and, in general, templates. It also omits features new to C++11, notably lambda abstractions and type inference, e.g., auto and decltype. It does, however, include gcc's statement expressions, i.e., ({ … }). When compared to C, the target language does include support for basic classes, exceptions, and name spaces. For the first version of the translator, you can ignore memory management and assume an infinite main memory. For the second version of the translator, you need to automatically reclaim unused memory through a so-called smart pointer. The smart pointer library, as well as any library support for implementing Java arrays, may use templates.

Most Java statements and expressions translate directly into the corresponding C++ statements and expressions (modulo minor language differences). As a result, the main challenges for the course project are figuring out (1) how to translate Java class hierarchies into C++ without inheritance and (2) how to implement Java’s virtual method dispatch in C++ without virtual method dispatch, (3) how to select the right overloaded method, and (4) how to automatically manage memory without an existing garbage collector. Note that we will explore how to approach each challenge in class; we will also leave the latter two challenges for the second version of the translator.

Besides the programming language itself, any version of Java includes a rather extensive set of platform libraries, with the facilities in the java.lang package being tightly integrated with Java’s execution model. For our translator, we only support the hashCode(), equals(), and toString() methods in java.lang.Object and the printing of numbers and strings through out.print() and out.println() in java.lang.System. Furthermore, we do not support the dynamic loading of Java classes, but rather translate all Java classes of the source program into one C++ program.

Please note that the translator need not perform any correctness checks on source programs; in other words, you can assume that source programs are free of compile-time errors. At the same time, when writing your own Java test programs, it seems prudent to test them with a regular Java compiler.


Class Date Topics Materials Assignments
1 01/23
  • Introduction
2 01/25
  • OOP Principles
  • Java Intro
  • Test-driven Development
3 01/30
  • Java and C++
  • Names, Sources, and Binaries
  • Read CFJP ch. 0, 1, 2, and 4 up to and excluding 4.6 before class
4 02/01
  • Project Description
  • Designing our Translator
  • Read OODP Chapter 2 before class
5 02/06
  • Design Patterns: Chain of Responsibility
  • Tools: Git, sbt, JUnit
6 02/08
7 02/13
  • Inheritance and Dynamic Dispatch
  • Project kick-off
  • Read OODP chapters 4 and 6 before class
  • Read CFJP ch. 6.1 and 6.2 before class
8 02/15
  • Implementing Inheritance and Dynamic Dispatch
  • Vtables
  • Read OODP chapters 7.3 before class
02/20 No class (Presidents' Day)
9 02/22
10 02/27
  • OOP Design: when to use inheritance
11 03/01
  • Tools: XTC features
  • logging and debugging
12 03/06
  • Arrays in Java and C++
  • Translating arrays to C++
13 03/08
  • Generics in Java
  • C++ templates
  • Improved array translation
  • OODP chapter 8.3 before class
  • Read CFJP chapter 7 before class
03/13 No class (Spring Break)
03/15 No class (Spring Break)