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Frances: A Tool for Understanding Computer Architecture and Assembly Language

Frances: A Tool for Understanding Computer Architecture and Assembly Language Frances: A Tool for Understanding Computer Architecture and Assembly Language TYLER SONDAG, Iowa State University KIAN L. POKORNY, McKendree University HRIDESH RAJAN, Iowa State University Students in all areas of computing require knowledge of the computing device including software implementation at the machine level. Several courses in computer science curricula address these low-level details such as computer architecture and assembly languages. For such courses, there are advantages to studying real architectures instead of simplified examples. However, real architectures and instruction sets introduce complexity that makes them difficult to grasp in a single semester course. Visualization techniques can help ease this burden, unfortunately existing tools are often difficult to use and consequently difficult to adopt in a course where time is already limited. To solve this problem, we present Frances. Frances graphically illustrates key differences between familiar high-level languages and unfamiliar low-level languages and also illustrates how familiar high-level programs behave on real architectures. Key to this tool is that we use a simple Web interface that requires no setup, easing course adoption hurdles. We also include several features that further enhance its usefulness in a classroom setting. These features include graphical relationships between high-level code and machine code, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE) Association for Computing Machinery

Frances: A Tool for Understanding Computer Architecture and Assembly Language

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Publisher
Association for Computing Machinery
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 by ACM Inc.
ISSN
1946-6226
DOI
10.1145/2382564.2382566
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Frances: A Tool for Understanding Computer Architecture and Assembly Language TYLER SONDAG, Iowa State University KIAN L. POKORNY, McKendree University HRIDESH RAJAN, Iowa State University Students in all areas of computing require knowledge of the computing device including software implementation at the machine level. Several courses in computer science curricula address these low-level details such as computer architecture and assembly languages. For such courses, there are advantages to studying real architectures instead of simplified examples. However, real architectures and instruction sets introduce complexity that makes them difficult to grasp in a single semester course. Visualization techniques can help ease this burden, unfortunately existing tools are often difficult to use and consequently difficult to adopt in a course where time is already limited. To solve this problem, we present Frances. Frances graphically illustrates key differences between familiar high-level languages and unfamiliar low-level languages and also illustrates how familiar high-level programs behave on real architectures. Key to this tool is that we use a simple Web interface that requires no setup, easing course adoption hurdles. We also include several features that further enhance its usefulness in a classroom setting. These features include graphical relationships between high-level code and machine code,

Journal

ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE)Association for Computing Machinery

Published: Nov 1, 2012

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