Clarkson University

CS 141: Introduction to Computer Science I

Course Syllabus -- Spring 2005

Course Website:
Lectures: MWF 11:00-11:50, Snell 213
Labs: Tuesday 10:00, 11:00, and 12:00

Professor: William Hesse
Office: Science Center 383
Phone: 268-2387

Office hours:
Monday TBA
Tuesday TBA
Wednesday TBA
Friday TBA
Or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Todd DeShane
Office: ITL lab (SC 334)


TA's Office Hours:
Monday TBA
Wednesday TBA

Course Objectives:

  1. Students will learn the fundamentals of structured programming in C++.
  2. Students will learn and practice good program design techniques and programming style, resulting in programs which are correct, reliable, and maintainable.
  3. In addition to the basics of computer programming , students will be introduced to fundamental ideas of computer science.

Textbook: "Problem Solving with C++: The Object of Programming (5th or 4th ed.)", by Walter Savitch, published by Addison-Wesley.

Chapters and sections covered in the textbook: Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Section 6.1, Chapters 7, 10, Sections 11.2, 11.3

The grading in this class has three parts. The first part is a numerical score, based on all components of the course. Labs, assignments, and tests will be curved at the time they are graded, and there will be no curve applied to the final class averages. The components are weighted according to this table:

The second part of the grading is a requirement for advanced work in order to receive a grade of B+ or A. The programming assignments will have advanced versions that students can do instead. Students must do the advanced versions of 4 out of 8 assignments to be eligible for a B+, and the advanced versions of 6 out of 8 assignments to be eligible for an A. This is so that the standard versions of the programming assignments can be at a level that all students can master, but so that the best students can work on more challenging problems.

The third part of the grading is a minimum requirement on the final. Students must have a (curved) score of 45 or greater on the final to pass the course.

The grades for all course components will be posted on Blackboard as soon as they are computed. All students are required to have a Blackboard account and to register for CS 141 on Blackboard. This is a separate process from registering of the course on Peoplesoft. EXAMS:
You are responsible for all material in the lecture, as well as the reading assignments. Most important topics from the reading assignments will be reviewed in lecture. Check Fall '03 Exams and Old Exams for old exams to study from.

The computer laboratory periods are scheduled every Tuesday, in the Internet teaching lab (ITL) in room SC 334 on the third floor of the Science Center.
These labs are an essential part of the course. It is important to come prepared for each lab, having looked through the assignment and remembering to bring all necessary materials.

Some of the labs are too long to get done during the lab period. Therefore, lab assignments do not need to be turned in until Monday of the following week, by the beginning of lecture. Late work will be subject to a 25% penalty each week. Submit labs online as instructed by the lab instructor.

In addition to the scheduled labs, the TA will have office hours, where he will help you complete your lab assignments, answer questions about the course, help with homework, and so on. You may come in anytime during the office hours, at your convenience. This gives you the opportunity to finish your lab work under the supervision of the TA.

Please come to Professor Hesse's office hours as well, if you have any questions about the material, assignments, or want to chat about computers and computer science.

We will be introducing the use of an online chat room for office hours this semester, using the chat room functionality of Blackboard. You can ask questions during office hours in real time, and expect answers immediately (unless a physically present student is asking a question at the same time).

In addition to the labs, there will also be additional programs assigned in class. These programming assignments will require more thinking than the labs. Programs will be assigned in class and due in class two or three weeks later. Programs must be turned in by 8 AM on the day they are due. The online submission process will verify that your program compiles and passes tests that measure its correctness.

Students' programs must compile, run, and produce the correct output to receive full credit. If they do not run and produce the correct output, they will receive a grade of at most 80%. Partial credit up to that limit will be given based on the correctness of the program.

Because half of the work of writing a program is debugging that program (finding and removing errors from it), make sure to start your programs early. You may also then send me your programs and ask questions about them, and receive answers in time to fix your programs.

Because a large part of learning to program is learning about common errors, and how to avoid them, I will use examples from students' programs in lecture. Students' names will be removed, so they cannot be identified. If you don't wish your code to be used this way, let me know.

With computers, everything that can go wrong will go wrong at the last minute. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that you begin your assignments early. My suggestions are as follows: Start the assignment as soon as possible, so you will immediately realize if there is something you don't know. If you have problems finishing it on that day, you will have more time to fix any problems. Please follow my suggestions. If you don't, I can guarantee trouble. If you fall behind, it will be difficult to dig yourself out. Late work is subject to a penalty of 25% per week.

ATTENDANCE: Attendance is required and will be taken in this class. This will constitute the major part of the class participation score, so that each class missed takes away 1/4 of 1% of your final grade. Verbal excuses will be accepted for at most two absences, otherwise written notices are needed. Part of attendance is having completed the required reading for the class. Therefore, attendance will be taken by having students submit a question about the required reading on a 3x5 index card at the beginning of each class.

The rules for working on labs and working on assignments are different. Students may discuss assignments and work together, but must work alone on labs. Even on assignments, each student must write their own program, and cannot copy code from another student.

Labs for this class must be done individually. All the help you need to complete a lab must be gotten from the lab instructor or professor.

Programming assignments may be discussed with other students. However, do not look at other students' code until you have tried to write that section of code yourself. At that point, you may discuss your code and correct each other's errors. If you look at another student's code, or they look at yours, note this in your submission - include the names of all students you worked with. This is a good thing - you should discuss your code with other students. We just want to be able to verify that students are helping each other appropriately.

Feel free to discuss the assignments and strategies for solving them (algorithms), but write the code yourself.

The idea behind the following exact rules is that students should work and study together as much as possible, but a student should not be helped so much that they do not learn the material themselves, or that their submitted work is does not correctly represent what they are capable of doing when working alone.

The exact rules for "doing it yourself" are:

There are many ways to write any program, and so two students submitting essentially identical code will be suspected of academic dishonesty. You do not need to worry about coincidentally writing similar code. If you do worry about this, a good way to absolutely prove that your program is your own work is to save intermediate versions of the program as you work, with file names like "program1version1.cpp", "program1version2.cpp", and so on.

I take cheating seriously. Cheating on tests, labs, or assignments will result in a grade reduction or failing grade for the course, and notification of the academic integrity board.

If you find yourself getting behind, please see the course instructor. We can work together to get you back on schedule. Besides learning programming in C++, you should also be practicing good study habits, time management, and other learning skills in this class.

Author: William Hesse
Last Modified: Jan 3, 2005