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Language Reference


Karel the Robot is a programming language used to introduce beginning programming students to programming concepts. The language was created by Richard Pattis and used in his programming courses at Stanford University. It is named after Karel Čapek, a Czech writer who introduced the term robot into present day vocabulary. This was done in his play R.U.R. - Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum's Universal Robots).

Pattis' text, Karel the Robot: A Gentle Introduction to the Art of Programming, introduced students around the world. Karel uses a simple command set and sensors to perform complex tasks. The first video shows Karel picking up a rectangular array of beepers.


Karel's world also has wall segments that Karel must navigate around. Karel has sensors that know when a wall segment is immediately in front of, to the left of, or to the right of the robot. This allows Karel to make decisions that navigate around or avoid these wall segments

Karel the Robot Text

KAREL The Robot teaches students the fundamental concepts and skills of programming, quickly and easily. By emphasizing logic and structure over calculation, it provides a nonthreatening introduction to the central ideas in programming.

This widely praised guide begins by introducing KAREL, a literal-minded robot whos built-in capabilities allow him to explore his world and manipulate simple objects in it. Once students learn the details of KAREL's deceptively simple programming language, they will soon be designing well-structured programs that instruct KAREL to perform surprisingly complex tasks. Along the way students will be absorbing sophisticated programming concepts that will enhance their programming ability.

Purchase the Text

Our goal is to provide a simple, online environment for writing and running programs 100% compatible with Pattis' text. No installation is required. No browser add ons are required. To purchase the text, click on the link below. (We are an Amazon Affiliate and receive a commission on purchases made through this link).

Karel the Robot Text

Teacher's Guide

A very valuable resource for teachers including problem solutions and discussion of approaches to each chapter in the text.

Karel the Robot - Teacher's Guide

Next Step

If you are familiar with Karel and our IDE, you can go immediately to the Run Time IDE and begin writing and running programs. If you are familiar with Karel's language but not this IDE, you go to the Tutorial 2 - Writing Simple Programs. If you are completely new to Karel, start with the Tutorial 1 - Karel's World. There are additional references at the bottom of the page that might be useful also.

Whatever the case, get ready for an enjoyable fun experience.


1) Karel The Robot: A Gentle Introduction to the Art of Programming, 2nd Edition, Richard E. Pattis, Jim Roberts (Revised by), Mark Stehlik (Revised by) ISBN: 978-0-471-59725-4, July 1994, Wiley Publishing

2) Course material used at Middle Tennessee University

3) Course material used at the University of Rhode Island