COM 1100 Fundamentals of Computer Science - Fall 2000 - Rules, Regulations and Advice

for Professor Futrelle's section
College of Computer Science, Northeastern U., Boston, MA

This page was updated on Wednesday 20 September 2000

This page contains the rules and regulations for Professor Futrelle's section of COM1100 as well as general advice that will help you throughout the course.

Here is a summary of the major points made below:
You must check for email from me at least once a day.
Responsibilities for assignments and tests.
Come to class -- otherwise you will suffer.
Always bring your book to class.
Take notes.
You are required to attend labs.
Computers demand precision.
Computers are machines.
There will be many quizzes, even surprise quizzes.
Do your own work, though teamwork is possible.
Writing is important, even spelling.
Don't get behind.
You're here to learn and become professionals.

You must check for email from me at least once a day. At the very beginning of the course, I will hand out hardcopies of the course material. After that, all further information, updates, etc., will be on the web or in email. I will alert you to every important update in class and also by email. The email itself may have important information in it too. It is your responsibility to check your email every day. I check mine many times a day, 7 days a week.

Responsibilities for assignments and tests. Assignments must be handed in on time. One of the reasons is that I often explain the answers to them shortly after they're handed in, so it makes no sense to try to hand them in late. There can be no excuses for missing the Midterm or Final, other than a serious emergency such as a medical problem, supported by a doctor's note. Since there will be a number of quizzes, I will allow one no-questions-asked skipped quiz. But all machine problems must be done and done on time.

Important rule: If you cannot finish a machine problem or other assignment on time, you must hand in, on time, whatever you have accomplished up to that point, even if your program will not compile or run.

You are required to attend labs. Some of you might prefer to do your programming at home, but the labs are short and various things are explained there and we will take attendance at the labs. In any event, if you work on your machine problems outside of the CCS labs, you must guarantee that they will run on the CCS lab PCs (by running them yourself!). We cannot accept or grade programs that do not run on the CCS PCs. Further details about the labs can be found on the course lab pages (in preparation).

Come to class -- otherwise you will suffer. My job as a teacher is to help you learn and you have to be in class to take advantage of this. In class you will hear questions asked and answered, often about things you wondered about also.

Always bring your book to class. I will often refer to specific text, code or figures in your textbook (Friedman/Koffman). So bring your copy to every class.

Take notes. Not every important piece of information will be in your book or on the web -- you'll only hear it in my lectures, so take notes. Paper is reliable memory. Wetware is fickle.

Computers demand precision. Like nothing else you may have met in your life, programming for computers demands precision. One tiny mistake and your program won't work. If you know the rules, programming can be a breeze. If you don't, it can be a nightmare.

Computers are machines. They're just machines and you can master them and make them do your bidding. That's one of the great joys of being a computer professional.

Read. To learn the precise things about programming you need to know and to learn them well, you'll have to read the book, early and often! Be an active reader -- scribble notes and examples for yourself as you read -- read trying to find the answers to certain questions -- read with your answers to certain things in mind and see if the book agrees (otherwise change!).

There will be many quizzes, even surprise quizzes. The quizzes will be one or two short questions each. Most will be announced in advance.

Do your own work, though teamwork is possible. You each receive a grade at the end of the quarter. It should reflect what you have done, so you must do your own work. You should certainly discuss the material with other students, but in the final analysis, what you hand in must be your own. You can find details of this in Northeastern's Student Handbook and other details in a university Academic Honesty & Integrity Policy document. We will discuss team projects later.

Writing is important, even spelling. Many of our graduates tell us that they are surprised at how much writing (not programming!) they do in their jobs, especially as they move up the ladder and start managing groups of professionals. When you send email to a colleague or your boss or a customer, it is embarrassing if your grammar or spelling is bad. I will even test spelling (a bit) in the course, e.g., you should know how to spell "pseudocode" and "precedence" and "von Neumann". You should know the difference between "e.g." and "i.e." and know the pronunciation of "etc."

Don't get behind. Getting behind in the reading of hundreds of pages of technical material can really mess you up. I hope the frequent quizzes will help you keep up with the reading.

You're here to learn and become professionals. You're here to learn. Don't get hung up on a point here or a point there on your homework or tests. Focus on what you're learning. If you get a question wrong, study the topic carefully so you won't get it wrong again. I will sometimes ask the same question again on a later test to be sure everyone really learns the material.