Integrating hands-on work into the formal languages course via tools and programming
Integrating hands-on practice into an automata and formal languages course aids in transforming the course from a traditional mathematics course into a traditional computer science course, while making the material more interesting from both teaching and learning perspectives. The interactive and visual tools we integrate into our course are FLAP, a tool for constructing and simulating several types of nondeterministic automata, and LLparse and LRparse, tools for constructing parse tables and animating the parsing of strings. As a programming component, our students are also required to write an LR(1) parser for a simple programming language, using the tool Xtango to animate programs in this new language.
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