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Frances-A: A Tool For Easy Realistic Architecture Level Program Visualization


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Sondag, Tyler, Pokorny, Kian L. and Rajan, Hridesh (2010) Frances-A: A Tool For Easy Realistic Architecture Level Program Visualization. Technical Report 10-08, Computer Science, Iowa State University.

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Abstract

Computer organization and architecture courses are an integral part of computer science education. For such courses, there are advantages to studying real architectures instead of simplified examples. However, real architectures are complex and difficult to grasp in a single semester course. Visualization of a running program on a given architecture can help with this problem by showing students functionality of architectural components and their interactive behavior. However, existing architectural simulations are difficult to use and consequently difficult to adopt in a course where time is already limited. To solve this problem, we present Frances-A. Key to Frances-A's design is that it uses a simple web interface that requires no setup and is easy to use, making it easy to adopt in a course. Frances-A also includes several features that further enhance its usefulness in a classroom setting. These features include graphical relationships between high-level code and machine code, clearly illustrated step by step machine state transitions, color coding to make instruction behavior clear, and illustration of pointers.

Keywords:Frances, Visualization, Architecture
Subjects:Computer Systems Organization: GENERAL
Software: PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES: Language Constructs and Features (E.2)
Software: PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES: Processors
Computing Milieux: COMPUTERS AND EDUCATION: Computer and Information Science Education
ID code:00000651
Deposited by:Tyler Sondag

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