General InformationEarning a Grade: A lot of you have one burning question on your mind as you start your college career:
How am I going to get an A in this course?We have some news for you: you are in college now, and in college, it really is about learning something and not (just) getting a grade. As a matter of fact, if you are taking a course and the A comes easy, you are either cheating yourself or you are allowing the instructor to cheat you.
Here is the positive take-away from this section: College is your last chance to learn how to learn by yourself, without pressure from parents, teachers, or peers. You want to learn that, because the quality of your life depends on it. Your life. Nothing more, nothing less.
Naturally, we understand that you want some feedback, both in terms of specific corrections and in terms of a grade. You want feedback so that you can improve your learning process. And we will give you that feedback. It is our end of the bargain. Your end is to demonstrate that you actually use the methods and tools for learning that work best in our experiemce. After all, you don't want to waste your time, and we don't want to waste ours either.
So, if you wish to earn a grade in this course, you must print the Course Contract, sign and date it, and turn it during your first lab session (CS 2501). Your signature acknowledges that you have read and understood the contract and its implications. As long as you will live up to its spirit, we will stand by you during this semester.
People: In a large freshman course such as CS 2500 you typically encounter three kinds of people, listed in increasing order of relevance to you:
Instructors: Profs. Leena Razzaq and Amy Sliva
Teaching Assistants: Tim Smith, Simona Boboila and Phil Nguyen
TAs teach labs, supervise the grading of homework sets, hold office hours, and occasionally substitute in lectures. In general, they are apprentice teachers and are here to learn how to run a course.
Tutors: Allison Ventura, William Jackson, Joshua Tsuji, Martha Hamlin, Ryan Bigelow, William Johnston, Rebecca MacKenzie and Joseph Goode.
Tutors hold office hours and group meetings in colleges and labs, grade homeworks and provide feedback about the class's progress. In general, they are undergraduate and graduate students who know that to learn something really well, you need to teach it.
Class: Class consists of lectures and lab meetings (CS 2501).
Lectures--The course has two lecture sections:
|Morning||MWTh 10:30am||Richards 458||Razzaq|
|Afternoon||MWTh 4:35pm||West Village G 104||Sliva|
You must sign up for one section and make an effort to attend this section on a regular basis. If you are in one of the regular-track sections and (need to) miss a lecture, you're welcome to attend the corresponding lecture in the other section.
Labs--The course also has lab sections, aka CS 2501. The labs start on Wednesday, January 18. You signed up for a lab section during registration; if you need to change your choice, you must go to the registrar and change it there.
You will attend your chosen lab section on a weekly basis. The purpose of labs is to give you some hands-on experience with the actual tools, and to explain some of the principles from lecture with hands-on examples.
Computing Environment: We will use DrRacket v5.2, a programming environment for the Scheme programming language, some dialects of Java, Algol 60, OCAML, and a few others. For CS 2500, we will stick to the HtDP teaching languages plus teachpacks. DrRacket is installed on the CCS computers. It is also freely available on the Web (see the DrRacket box on the homepage) in case you wish install it on your own computer.
DrRacket runs on most popular platforms (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and other unix systems). Programs written in DrRacket have the same behavior on all platforms. You therefore do not need to worry what kind of machine you use when you run DrRacket programs.
Problem Sets: The purpose of the problem sets is to prepare you for the exams.
There will be weekly problem sets. Some problems are drawn from HtDP, the textbook; others are constructed for this instance of CS 2500.
We will drop the homework grade with the worst impact on your final grade from consideration for the final grade. Thus, if you just don't get it one week, nothing is lost. The story is different for the second or third or ... time. Late homework is not excepted.
You may only collaborate on problem sets with your partner (see below). You must acknowledge your collaborator/partner on your cover page. Any other collaboration is cheatings; we will report cases to the university administration.
Pair Programming: You must work on some problem sets in pairs. Your lab TA will assign you a partner. A few times throughout the semester, you will get a new partner.
Pair programming means that you and your partner work on the problem sets jointly. You read them together and you work on the solutions together. One of the lab's purposes is to teach you how to work in pairs effectively; indeed, pairs are notably more effective than individuals in programming. The rough idea is this: One of you plays pilot, the other co-pilot. The pilot works on the keyboard and explains aloud what is going on; it is the co-pilot's responsibility to question everything. After a problem is solved to the satisfaction of both, you must switch roles.
Exams and Quizzes: We will have two midterm and one final exams to assess your progress.
Midterm 1: February 8
Midterm 2: March 21
Final Exam: April 18
These exam dates are tentative and may change depending on the pace of the lectures.
The exams will test material similar to that assigned in weekly homeworks. You will take the exams by yourself. Collaboration is not permitted. Absence from an exam will be excused only for medical or emergency reasons. A note from your doctor will be required. If you can solve every homework problem on your own, the exams will be easy. If not, you will have a difficult time. Exams are open book.
We will have a daily quiz. It is our one concession to "high school thinking" (consider it a crutch for your self-discipline). These quizzes get graded on a random basis; unselected quizes get thrown away.
Grades: You will get a GPA for your homework, for the labs, for your quizzes, and for your exams. You must have both a passing homework GPA and a passing GPA to pass the course. For the final grade, we will assign a weight of 25% to the homework grade, a weight of 60% to the three exams, a weight of 10% to the labs, and the remaining 5% for the quizzes.