15-112 Syllabus
Fall 201

Office Hours:

Instructor Office Hours (koz):  Tue/Thu, noon to 2pm++, GHC 5001

Head CA (Margaret Schervish / mschervi): by appointment

CA Office Hours (in GHC 5205, with overflow in GHC 5201 or elsewhere as needed):
   * Daily (7 days/wk):  7 - 10pm.
   * Fri: 6 - 10pm.
   * Sat-Sun: noon - 10pm.

To help identify CA's, see these staff pictures.

of Classes:
   Days  Lecturer / CA's Time Room
Lecture TR  David Kosbie (koz) 10:30am - 11:50am DH 2210
      Section A F  Nathan (noshlag), Daniel (dlbucci), Veronica (vebert) 8:30am - 9:20am GHC 5205
      Section B F  Michael (mmatty), Advaya (advayak), Michaela (mvanpeur) 9:30am - 10:20am GHC 5205
      Section C F  Margaret (mschervi), Asa (afrank), Shikha (snalla) 10:30am - 11:20am GHC 5205
      Section D F  Andre (asutanto), DJ (dbegos), Yi (yili1) 11:30am - 12:20pm GHC 5205
      Section E F  Tamar (tbenshac), Rokhini (rokhinip), Mike (mgazzola) 12:30pm - 1:20pm GHC 5205
      Section F F  Connor (cbrem), Edison (haozheg), Disha (dbora) 1:30pm - 2:20pm GHC 5205
      Section G F  Jordan (jzink), Leon (lwzhang), Justin (jmfrye) 2:30pm - 3:20pm GHC 5205
      Section H F  Yuyang (yuyangg), Tomer (treiter), Thomas (tcmoore) 3:30pm - 4:20pm GHC 5205
      Section I F  Charlie (cwswanso), Kechun (kmao), Dan (dcushman) 4:30pm - 5:20pm GHC 5205
We will use Python version 2.x, which can be freely downloaded from python.org.  We will provide download instructions in class.  We will also use one or more free IDE's (code editors) and other free software packages.  We will not use any commercial software packages in this course.
Participation in this course is required and consists of the following activities:
  • Attending and participating in lectures and recitations.
  • Reading the printed and online notes and other assigned readings.
  • Carrying out homework assignments.
  • Taking the quizzes, midterms, and final.
  • Attendance is required (if not always strictly recorded).  Repeated failure to attend lectures or recitations may result in a lowered semester grade regardless of your numeric average.  You will be responsible for all materials presented in lectures and recitations. You should not expect that all lecture or recitation materials will be given to you in written form (including the online class notes we provide).  Note that missed quizzes and tests may not be made up in general (though certain exceptions are permitted -- see the relevant sections below).

    Assessment:  Any material covered in lecture, in recitation, in assigned readings, or in homework assignments may be included in any future homework assignment, quiz, or test.

     Course Component    Weight 
    Final Exam 20%
    Midterm Exam 10%
    Quizzes 20%
    Homeworks 30%
    Term Project 20%

    Each homework, term project, quiz, midterm, and final will be graded on a standard scale:
       A: 90 - 100
       B: 80 - 89
       C: 70 - 79
       D: 60 - 69
       R:  0 - 59

    Final Exam:
    There will be a standard 3-hour final exam during the final exam period at the end of the semester.  The final exam is worth 20% of the semester grade.

    Midterm Tests:
    There will be one midterm exam worth 10% of the semester grade, given in class as noted in the course schedule. 

    Quizzes will be given approximately once per week generally in lab on Mondays (at the same time as your Friday recitation), but perhaps on occasion in lecture, recitation, or at other times.

    Extended-Time Policy:

    We gladly accommodate students with university-approved extended time (as approved by Larry Powell's office).  For in-lab quizzes, the extended-time quiz will be administered in the lab at 4:30pm on the same day as the quiz.  For in-lecture quizzes, the extended-time quiz will be administered at my office at 9:00am on the same day as the quiz.  For midterm and final exams, Larry Powell's office typically proctors the extended-time versions of these, and we will email you with details for each test.  Importantly:  to obtain extended-time, you must attend the extended-time quiz and not the in-lecture or in-recitation quiz.  You do have the option of attending the in-lecture or in-recitation quiz, but then you will have to complete it in the assigned time (without extended-time).  If you are attending lecture or recitation and a quiz is commencing that you have already completed (having taken the extended-time version of the quiz that morning), you may remain in the room and work quietly on other materials or you may leave the room for the duration of the quiz (your choice).

    Late Policy:
    No late / make-up quizzes or tests will be administered, except in the case of medical or family emergencies or other university-approved absences. For qualifying missed quizzes, students should obtain instructor approval before missing the quiz.  Students may then make-up missed quizzes by attending professor's office hours up until 4 days following the quiz.

    Late Homework:
    Homework is due at a specified date and time. If you miss the deadline (by even one minute, according to Autolab's clock), homework may be submitted up to 24 hours late with a 25% penalty.  No homework submissions will be accepted after the 24-hour late period, except in the case of medical or family emergencies or other pre-arranged university-approved absences.

    Homework Formatting Errors:
    Misformatted homework in general cannot be graded by our autograder, and as such may receive 0 points.  Thus, be sure to submit your homework early -- you can submit repeatedly, we only grade the last submission -- to be sure you do not have obvious formatting errors.

    Show Your Work:
    Some homework assignments, and most quizzes and tests, will include some written work (meaning: work that is not performed with access to Python or an IDE or a calculator (unless otherwise noted), whether or not it involves programming).  In order to receive credit for these problems, you must show your work.  Correct answers without supporting documentation will not be given full credit.  Some questions may not require work to be shown (e.g.:  "Name three software companies in Silicon Valley"), but most questions assuredly do.  When in doubt, show your work.

    The programming assignments are a critical part of the course. Experience has shown that the concepts covered in this course are best learned by direct engagement -- in our case by applying them to example problems or by implementing them in computer programs.

    Programming assignments will be graded based on style (modularity, effective use of data abstraction, readability, commenting, etc.) and functionality (correctness and efficiency of the program on the test inputs).  A working program is not sufficient for full credit. Make sure you do a thorough data validation. Your code should be properly annotated with comments that are well-placed, concise, and informative. Your assignments will be graded by your CA, and by automated graders, and at times by your instructor.


    Unless otherwise noted, for homework assignments, students are encouraged to talk to each other, to the course staff, or to anyone else about the assignments. This assistance, though, is limited to the discussion of the problems in general.  Each student must develop his or her own solutions to the homework. Consulting another student's solution is prohibited, and submitted solutions may not be copied in whole or in part from any source.

    Specifically:  do not look at other students' code or written answers, and do not show them your code or written answers, until after the assignment deadline has passed and the assignment has been submitted and graded.

    do not email or otherwise electronically or physically transfer your code to other students, and do not receive such transmissions from other students, until after the assignment deadline has passed and the assignment has been submitted and graded.

    In particular, this precludes students helping each other debug their code (since you may not even look at their code). Of course, students may (and should!) seek debugging assistance (and any other help) from the course staff, who provide extensive support to all students via email, office hours, review sessions, and 1-on-1 tutoring by appointment.

    Also, if you find a reference (say, in an optional textbook or some online source) that contains code or a written solution that is identical or overtly similar to an assigned problem, then you are required to not look at that code or written solution!  You may still refer to supporting figures and explanatory text, but you may not look at or copy the code.

    And:  any attempt to decompile solutions, or object code that may help produce solutions, or in any way to extract solutions from the autograder, or to "hack" the autograder in any way, will result in your failing the course.

    Note that some assignments (or portions thereof) will be explicitly marked as collaborative.  In those (and only those) assignments, you may work with other students, even writing code together, and certainly debugging each other's code.  However, even then, you absolutely may not copy solutions from anyone or anywhere.  In all cases, you must be intellectually involved in the authoring of everything you submit.

    In addition to manual checks on homework and exam submissions, we will also routinely use an automated plagiarism detector. Here is a video demonstrating how it works (AVI or MP4).

    The issue of cheating will be taken seriously by the instructor and CA's.  Any violations will be handled in accordance with the University regulations, with serious consequences on the first offense.

    Addendum:  There are many online 'help' resources, and while some may be legitimate, many are basically providing a homework service, or otherwise violating the spirit (and often also the letter) of our course policies on cheating and collaboration.  Importantly, we also cannot control the quality of 'help' students receive from such sources, and experience indicates many 'answers' from such sources are of very low quality (presumably in part as these are not always supplied by CMU Course Assistants or other similarly-qualified tutors).  Finally, given the truly extensive support this course provides through daily office hours, private and small-group tutoring, email-based help, collaborative assignments, and so forth, not to mention the support of the broader CMU community of learners, there is no compelling reason students should need any external sources (except, presumably, to obtain assistance in violation of course policies).  AND SO...  Students may not post any course content. nor any questions related to any assigned material. to any online venue.  Doing so may result in failing the course on the first offense.

    Classroom: Recording (audio or video):  Students may not record lectures or recitations without explicit permission in writing from the instructor. Violations will result in your failing the course. Exceptions will be granted in accordance with university guidelines for accessibility concerns, but even then such recordings may not be shared publicly or privately and must be deleted at the end of the semester.

    Electronics:  Students may not use any electronic devices in lecture (no cell phones, laptops, iPads, iPods, iWhatevers, etc) without explicit permission in writing from the instructor.  Students are expected to take notes, but to do so manually (pen and paper).