CS2500 F'12
Office Hours

General Information

Earning 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 (see tab on the left), 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:


Profs. Olin Shivers, Marsette Vona, Amal Ahmed, Leena Razzaq

Teaching Assistants:

Phillip Mates, Ahmed Abdelmeged, Ryan Bigelow, Nick Labich, Phil Phuc Nguyen, Tim Smith, Lori Monteleone
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.


Tyler Aldrich, Andrew Barba, Ryan Bigelow, Dan Calacci, Colin Clark, David Corbett, Chris Curreri, Lahiru Dayananda, John Dowd, Julia Ebert, Joey Goode, Martha Hamlin, Alessandro Hamuche, Eric Kelly, Mostafa Al Khonaizi, Hudson Klebs, Nate Lilienthal, Becca MacKenzie, Kevin Mclarnon, Francis Nimick, Cory Paszul, Tiffany Seeber, Talia Swartz, Mohammad Al Yahya
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 four lecture sections:

MWTh MorningMon/Wed/Thu 9:15amInternational Village 019Shivers
MWTh AfternoonMon/Wed/Thu 1:35pmShillman 135Vona
TuThFri MorningTue/Thu/Fri 11:45amHurtig 130Razzaq
HonorsMon/Thu 11:45amHurtig 224Ahmed
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 Monday, September 10 and Tuesday, September 11. 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 v5.3, 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 CCIS computers. It is also freely available on the Web (see tabs on the left of this page) 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 exam.

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 grade some but not all problems from each set.

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 time.

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 your problem sets (2–11) in pairs. Every few weeks, 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 hour evening exams to assess your progress:

  • Exam 1: October 15, 6:00-9:00pm, location TBD
  • Exam 2: November 19, 6:00-9:00pm, location TBD
Both exams will take place from 6:00-9:00; we'll announce the location here (and in class) once it has been determined.

The exams will test material similar to that assigned in weekly homeworks. You will take the exams by yourself. Collaboration is not permitted. If you can solve every homework problem on your own, the exams will be easy. If not, you will have a difficult time.

We will have the 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 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 two exams, and a weight of 10% to the quizzes. The remaining 5% are up to the instructors' whim (TBE).

last updated on Sun Dec 2 19:03:47 EST 2012generated with Racket