Usually we tend to focus on the synatx of programming languages, and argue endlessly about semicolons and braces - but semantics are much more important.
There are several (in fact three) common approaches to defining semantics: operational semantics, axiomatic semantics and denotational semantics.
This survey paper introduces the field.
Links to courses: #1, #2.
Of course, knowing the semantics is not enough for using the language effectively. For that you need to know how to use the language idiomatically, and to understand the programming paradigm it supports (e.g., object oriented). This is, in a sense, higher level semantic issues. But they shouldn't be confused with the precise semantics (i.e., meaning) of correct programs.
Posted to "" by Ehud Lamm on 9/10/00; 11:28:54 AM