Automatically grading programming homework (MIT News)

Automatically grading programming homework
Software that identifies errors in students’ programs — however idiosyncratic their approaches — could be a boon for online learning.

Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), working with a colleague at Microsoft Research, have developed a new software system that can automatically identify errors in students’ programming assignments and recommend corrections.

Teaching assistants at MIT have already begun using the software. But some variation on it could help solve one of the biggest problems faced by massive open online courses (MOOCs) like those offered through edX, the online learning initiative created by MIT and Harvard University: how to automate grading.

The system grew out of work on program synthesis — the automatic generation of computer programs that meet a programmer’s specifications — at CSAIL’s Computer-Aided Programming Group, which is led by Armando Solar-Lezama, the NBX Career Development Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. A paper describing the work will be presented this month at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Programming Language Design and Implementation conference. Joining Solar-Lezama on the paper are first author Rishabh Singh, a graduate student in his group, and Sumit Gulwani of Microsoft Research. Read More.

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