Best Reference Books – Theory of Programming Languages

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We have compiled the list of Top 10 Best Reference Books on Theory of Programming Languages subject. These books are used by students of top universities, institutes and colleges. Here is the full list of top 10 best books on Theory of Programming Languages along with reviews.

Kindly note that we have put a lot of effort into researching the best books on Theory of Programming Languages subject and came out with a recommended list of top 10 best books. The table below contains the Name of these best books, their authors, publishers and an unbiased review of books on "Theory of Programming Languages" as well as links to the Amazon website to directly purchase these books. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases, but this does not impact our reviews, comparisons, and listing of these top books; the table serves as a ready reckoner list of these best books.

1. “A Formal Semantics of Programming Languages: An Introduction” by Glynn Winskel

“Formal Semantics of Programming Languages” Book Review: This book provides basic mathematical techniques for a detailed study of the semantics and logics of programming languages. Starting with basic set theory, structural operational semantics, denotational semantics, and axiomatic semantics are introduced to define the meaning of programming languages along with associated proof techniques. Following a presentation of domain theory, the semantics and methods of proof for several functional languages are treated. The book concludes with separate chapters on treatment of recursive types and parallel programming languages and also contains many exercises and mini-projects. Students and professionals having prerequisite knowledge about the subject can refer to this book.

2. “Foundations for Programming Languages” by John C Mitchell

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Book Review: This book focuses on the core concepts used in modern programming languages and these core concepts include functions, type, memory management and control. The book also provides comprehensive presentation and comparison of the object oriented programming languages. The book contains separate chapters on history of objects, simula, smalltalk and languages like C++ and Java. The book also introduces fundamental concepts like lambda calculus, denotational semantics thereby concentrating on the main points provided by these theories. Others topics in the book include concurrency, program components, object oriented programming and inter-language interoperability. The book also contains a special chapter on logic programming that demonstrates the importance of programming methods for different kinds of problems.

3. “Types and Programming Languages” by Benjamin C Pierce

“Types and Programming Languages” Book Review: This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the type systems in computer science and the basic theory of programming languages. Core concepts like untyped lambda-calculus, type reconstruction, simple type systems, universal and existential polymorphism, bounded quantification, subtyping, recursive types, kinds, and type operators are explained with programming examples as well as numerous exercises and solutions. Extended case studies are also mentioned to help develop different approaches to modeling the features of object-oriented languages. This is a must-read book for graduate and undergraduate students studying computer science and engineering or computer applications.

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4. “Essentials of Programming Languages” by Daniel P Friedman and Christopher T Haynes

Book Review: This book provides a deep understanding of the important concepts of programming languages. These concepts include semantics, program elements and the text uses interpreters to express the semantics of many language elements in a clear and executable way. The book also provides various views of programming languages using theories of abstraction thereby maintaining a clear connection between high level and low level views. The book contains new chapters on modules and continuation passing style. This book is very useful for both graduate and undergraduate courses and other education courses for programmers.

5. “Programming Languages: Concepts and Constructs” by Ravi Sethi

Book Review: This book focuses on the concepts of programming languages and how they work together. The book provides readable coverage of the major programming paradigms. The book focuses on the core concepts of imperative programming in Pascal and C languages and later to object oriented programming in C++ and Smalltalk. The functional languages are illustrated by standard ML programs and Lisp scheme dialect. The book presents logic programming through prolog. The book provides in detail how the related concepts of a programming language work together and thereby the designers will be exposed to major programming concepts.

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6. “The Lambda Calculus: Its Syntax and Semantics” by H P Barendregt

Book Review: The book provides a very nice description of the semantics of programming languages. Different cases of lambda calculus models are described in a uniform manner in this book. Throughout the book, examples of various simple models are given and later general theory of the same is developed. The book also has a very nice graphical layout with regard to the symbols which makes it much easier to read and learn from. This book is a must for all the computer science students. Exercises at the end of each chapter are very helpful and also are very interesting. This book is purely theoretical and principally aimed for researchers/students of its field.

7. “Introduction to Programming Languages” by Bansal

“Introduction to Programming Languages” Book Review: This book introduces the basic principles of programming languages design and implementation. Data structures and discrete structures are also introduced from the point of view of programming language theory. Essential topics such as object-oriented programming, functional programming, logic programming, imperative programming, information exchange between subprograms, syntax and semantics, and program structures are covered in detail. Some newer concepts have also been explained including agent-based programming, web and multimedia programming, event-based programming, models for mobile computing, synchronous languages, dependency analysis, concurrent programming constructs, communicating sequential processes, and high-productivity programming on massive parallel computers. Replete with examples, case-studies and exercises, this book is an ideal read for students as well as professionals.

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8. “Implementation and Application of Functional Languages” by Horvath Butterfield

“Implementation and Application of Functional Languages” Book Review: This book consists of the selected papers from the proceedings of the 24th International Symposium on Implementation and Application of Functional Languages, IFL 2012, held in Oxford, UK, in Aug – Sept 2012. The 14 selected and revised papers cover the topic of the implementation and application of functional languages and function-based programming.

9. “Fundamentals of Programming Languages” by Horowitz Ellis

“Fundamentals of Programming Languages” Book Review: This book focuses on the essential concepts of programming languages. It provides detailed information on fundamental topics such as statements, data types, variables, concurrency, procedures, expressions, exception handling, scope, and typing. This book provides a framework for understanding future language designs, making it an ideal read for students and novices in this field.

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10. “The Interpretation of Object-Oriented Programming Languages 2nd ed. 2002 Edition” by Iain Craig

“The Interpretation of Object-Oriented Programming Languages” Book Review: The book covers all the fundamental concepts of object-oriented programming languages. Prototype, class-based and actor languages are explained in detail. The book also details all aspects of C# that are related to object-oriented programming. This edition also includes an appendix on a kernel language, BeCecil, that can implement object-oriented constructs within a single framework. Both students and professionals can refer to this book.

People who are searching for Free downloads of books and free pdf copies of these top 10 books on Theory of Programming Languages – we would like to mention that we don’t have free downloadable pdf copies of these good books and one should look for free pdf copies from these Authors only if they have explicitly made it free to download and read them.

We have created a collection of best reference books on "Theory of Programming Languages" so that one can readily see the list of top books on "Theory of Programming Languages" and buy the books either online or offline.

If any more book needs to be added to the list of best books on Theory of Programming Languages subject, please let us know.

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Manish Bhojasia - Founder & CTO at Sanfoundry
Manish Bhojasia, a technology veteran with 20+ years @ Cisco & Wipro, is Founder and CTO at Sanfoundry. He is Linux Kernel Developer & SAN Architect and is passionate about competency developments in these areas. He lives in Bangalore and delivers focused training sessions to IT professionals in Linux Kernel, Linux Debugging, Linux Device Drivers, Linux Networking, Linux Storage, Advanced C Programming, SAN Storage Technologies, SCSI Internals & Storage Protocols such as iSCSI & Fiber Channel. Stay connected with him @ LinkedIn | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter