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Retired Transylvania professor publishes computer textbook

James MillerLEXINGTON, Ky.—After 25 years of teaching a highly specialized computer course at Transylvania University, James Miller is sharing his knowledge in a newly published book.

Compiler Construction: A Practical Approach, is designed to give undergraduate computer science students a “good understanding of the process involved in taking a computer language that we as programmers can understand and converting it to a language that the computer understands,” said Miller, who taught for 42 years at Transy before retiring in 2008.

“I started teaching a compiler course at Transy almost before there was such a course for undergraduate computer science students,” he added. “The book comes mainly from notes that I developed over 25 years of teaching such a course.”

Admittedly, the market for a compiler construction book is small, Miller said. “However, I hope that my book will fill the need for those looking for a more practical book in this field.”

Compiler ConstructionAlthough there are many compiler texts available, Miller said most of them concentrate more on theory instead of on actual implementation of a working compiler. His book takes the subject a step further by helping students complete the task of writing a compiler in a one-semester course.

Throughout his teaching career at Transylvania, Miller also taught math and physics courses as well as other computer science courses. The accomplished professor is credited with launching the school’s computer science program, an initiative he championed throughout his tenure. He was also instrumental in reaching out to high school students through summer academic, science, computer and technology camps.

“I enjoyed teaching and hopefully could have continued for many more years,” he said. “But I felt that I would not force myself to do some other projects, such as writing the compiler book, while I was teaching. I always thought that teaching was a full-time job and couldn’t pull myself away to do other tasks.”

Now that his book is published, and when he is not building houses for Lexington’s Habitat for Humanity or serving on various boards, Miller is working on a junior- or senior-level math book, Numerical Analysis.

1/4/2010

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