CIS 120: Programming Languages and Techniques

Course Logistics


All course announcements will be posted on Piazza during the semester. If you are not yet signed up, please do so. You do not need to be officially registered for CIS 120 to join the Piazza forum.

Asynchronous course with synchronous components

The main course material will be available via pre-recorded videos, lecture slides, and lecture notes that will be released each week. Please see Piazza for more information about how to access this material.

In addition, you are strongly encouraged to join a synchronous discussion about the course material with Professor Weirich, Mondays and Wednesdays 11-12PM ET. See Piazza for information on how to join this session.

You must also register for a synchronous recitation section, where you will meet in small groups with a TA. (Alternative accommodation is available if you are unable to join your section synchronously.) The recitation sections will hold their first meeting on January 27th or 28th.


Course Description

Computer Science through Program Design

CIS 120 introduces students to computer science by emphasizing the design aspects of programming. Topics include:

  • Data types and data representation
  • Abstraction, interfaces, and modularity
  • Test-driven development
  • Programming patterns (recursion, iteration, events, call-backs, collections, map-reduce, GUIs, …)
  • Functional programming
  • How and when to use mutable state
  • Object-oriented programming


CIS 120 teaches programming concepts in two different languages: OCaml and Java, spending approximately equal time on how to design programs in each language. Students will use the Codio and Eclipse development environments for implementing their projects.

Who can take CIS 120?

CIS 120 students are not expected to have any prior experience with OCaml. We assume previous Java programming experience at the level of a high school computer science class or CIS 110. If you got at least 4 in the AP Computer Science A or AB exam, you will do great. If you have never programmed before, you should take CIS 110.