Spring 2022: 6.945 (grad AAGS), 6.905 (AUS)

Adventures in Advanced Symbolic Programming

Officially: Large-scale Symbolic Systems

3-0-9, Grad AAGS Level, AI Concentration

Gerald Jay Sussman,

with Manushaqe Muco


Concepts and techniques for the design and implementation of large software systems that can be adapted to uses not anticipated by the designer. Applications include compilers, computer-algebra systems, deductive systems, and some artificial intelligence applications. Means for decoupling goals from strategy. Mechanisms for implementing additive data-directed invocation. Working with partially-specified entities. Managing multiple viewpoints. Topics include combinators, generic operations, pattern matching, pattern-directed invocation, rule systems, backtracking, dependencies, indeterminacy, memoization, constraint propagation, and incremental refinement. Substantial weekly programming assignments are an integral part of the subject.

There will be extensive programming assignments, using MIT/GNU Scheme. Although MIT/GNU Scheme is Free (Libre) Software that you may install on your personal computers, we will supply alternative computing resources to support our class. Students should have significant programming experience in Scheme, Common Lisp, Haskell, CAML or other "functional" language. A strong background in Python is OK.

This subject is appropriate for undergraduates who have the prerequisite experience.

Prerequisites: 6.034, or comparable experience. For example, good performance in 6.009 is appropriate experience.. Programming experience in a functional language recommended.
Time: MWF 2:00PM
Room: 35-225
Textbook: Textbook: Software Design for Flexibility.
Office Hours:
GJS will be available on Friday afternoons from 3--4 (but often around in other afternoons!) Email gjs@mit.edu


Class materials:

Reference documentation: