Syllabus and general information for MCS-177: Introduction to
Computer Science I (Spring 2003)
The central theme of this course is the activity of abstraction, which
is ignoring irrelevant specifics. The quest for generality will
motivate our study of programming: you will learn how to express
general procedural ideas and how to use general categories of data in
terms of their operational properties.
We will also use abstraction to make computational processes easier to
think about. You will learn the relationship between the form of a
procedure and that of the computational process it generates,
including the resource consumption of that process. Also, you will
learn how to prove that a procedure has the desired effect, and why
such proofs are not always possible.
Although there are no formal prerequisites, you should understand the
material that is typically covered in high school algebra.
I will be available in my office (OHS 303) 10:30-11:20 Mondays,
Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as by
appointment. Or try your luck: just stop by and see whether my door
You may send me electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at
extension 7466. I'll try to put any updates to my office
hours on my web page, so check
there if in doubt.
World Wide Web
All course materials will be available through my World Wide Web page.
The URL for this course is http://www.gustavus.edu/~mc27/.
After this syllabus I will give hardcopy handouts only to those
students who want them.
The textbook for the course will be Hailperin, Kaiser, and Knight's
Concrete Abstractions: An Introduction to Computer Science Using
Scheme, Brooks/Cole Publishing Co., 1999.
There will be two intra-term tests and a final exam, as shown on the
syllabus below. (Note that the final exam will be as scheduled by the
registrar. The date and time shown in the syllabus are the tentative
projection from the registrar's office, but are subject to change by
that office.) If you have a conflict with a testing time, please
contact me as soon as possible to make an alternative arrangement.
Exams will be closed-book and mostly closed-notes. You may, however, use a
single 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper with hand-written notes for
reference. (Both sides of the sheet are OK.)
Attendance is mandatory for all lab sessions, unless you have already
turned in your project report. I will excuse up to two absences per
student, for any reason. Use yours wisely. If you exceed this
allowance, I may reduce your course grade by up to one letter grade.
Regarding class days, the policy is that you will be responsible for
all material, whether or not you are in attendance when it is covered
Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised
by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments
should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an
assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a
fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding,
not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to
cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably
Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or
taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing.
Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary
The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to
the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team
rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the
team should be be properly cited.
One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of
project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports
bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance
responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable
disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in
the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or
``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.
The syllabus shows due dates for eight homework assignments; each will
typically consist of a few problems. You must turn in all the
problems in an assignment by that assignment's due date, but may turn
in individual problems earlier if you wish. I will mark each problem
as "mastered" or "not yet mastered," and return them to you as rapidly
as I can. For those not yet mastered, I may write some brief
indication of what area needs work, but you should really take these
as an invitation to come talk. You may turn in a revised version of
each problem (with the previous graded version attached) however many times it takes to reach the "mastered"
point, even after the original due date. The only restrictions are
- You must have submitted an initial attempt by the original due
- No revision will be accepted for homeworks 1 and 2 after 9am March
5th, for homeworks 3, 4, and 5 after 9am April 11th, or for homeworks
6, 7 and
8 after 9am May 21st. These cutoff dates are intentionally
synchronized with the test review days; the point of the homeworks is to prepare
you for the tests.
Note that if you turn in each homework problem as soon as you can do
it, rather than saving them for the assignment due dates, you will
have more opportunity for revision and resubmission before the cutoff
dates listed above. Particularly for the last homeworks before each
cutoff date (and test), I can't guarantee you'll have time for a
revision cycle otherwise.
I may also announce an earlier cutoff date for any individual problem
I consider important for us to discuss in class.
The homework portion of your course grade will simply be determined by
the fraction of the homework problems you eventually mastered.
All project assignments are due at the beginning of class on
the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade
notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction
thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after graded
assignments are handed back.
If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you
will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the
top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances
will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading
(or one made by a lab instructor), and I will gladly fix it. You may
also request reconsideration if one of us has been especially unjust.
I will provide you with a grade on each homework and project
assignment, and on each test, in addition to the mid-term and final
grades, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a
guideline, the course components will contribute to your final grade
in the proportions indicated below:
- 36% project assignments (6 @ 6% each)
- 16% homework
- 32% intra-term exams (2 @ 16% each)
- 16% final exam
All homework and project reports should be readily readable, and should
not presuppose that we already know what you are trying to say. Use
full English sentences where appropriate (namely almost everywhere)
and clear graphs, tables, programs, etc. Remember that your goal is to
communicate clearly, and that the appearance of these technical items
plays a role in this communication process. Be sure your assignments
are always stapled together and that your name is always on them.
Each project assignment will include specific expectations for that
project's report, including the audience for which it should be
written. You should pay careful attention to this information.
Please contact me immediately if you have a learning or physical
disability requiring accommodation.
This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material.
However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised
|2/10||1.1-1.2||Introduction; simple expressions||
|2/11||Project 0: Getting started (ungraded)||
|2/12||1.2-1.3||Compound procedures; conditionals||
|2/13||Project 1: Quilting||
|2/18||Project 1 (continued)||
|2/19||2.3-2.4||Further examples & custom-sized quilts||
|2/20||Project 1 (continued)||
|2/24||3.2||Using invariants||Homework #2
|2/25||Project 1 (concludes)||
|2/26||3.3||Perfect numbers, internal definitions, & let||Project #1
|2/27||Project 2: Sum of divisors||
|3/3||3.5||The Josephus Problem||
|3/4||Special project: Card sorting (ungraded)||
|3/6||Test 1, 7:30-9:00 PM, OHS 320 (no lab)||
|3/7||4.1||Orders of growth||
|3/10||More on orders of growth||
|3/11||Project 2 (continued)||
|3/12||4.2||Tree recursion and digital signatures||Homework #3
|3/13||Project 2 (continued)||
|3/14||More on tree recursion and digital signatures||
|3/17||5.1||Procedural parameters||Homework #4
|3/18||Project 2 (last work day)||
|3/20||Project 2 peer review||Project #2 first draft
|3/21||5.3||Procedures that return procedures||
|3/24||5.4||Application of higher-order programming||
|3/25||Project 3: Fractal curves||Project #2
|3/27||Project 3 (continued)||
|3/28||6.3||Representations and implementations||Homework #5
|4/7||6.5||Strategy procedures; Overview of other CS courses||
|4/8||Project 3 (concludes)||
|4/9||6.4||Three-pile Nim||Project #3
|4/10||Project 4: Nim with strategies||
|4/15||Test 2, 7:30-9:00 PM, OHS 103 (no lab)||
|4/16||7.3||Basic list processing||
|4/17||Project 4 (continued)||
|4/22||Project 4 (continued)||
|4/23||7.4||Iterative list processing||Homework #6
|4/24||Project 4 (concludes)||
|4/25||7.5||Tree recursion and lists||
|4/28||7.6||Movie query system||Project #4
|4/29||Project 5: Movie queries||
|4/30||8.1||Binary search trees||
|5/1||Project 5 (continued)||
|5/2||8.2||Efficiency issues with binary search trees||
|5/6||Project 5 (continued)||
|5/7||9.1-9.2||Generic operations: multiple representations||Homework #7
|5/8||Project 5 (concludes)||
|5/9||9.2 & 9.4||More on multiple representations; computer graphics||
|5/12||More on computer graphics||Project #5
|5/13||Project 6: Implementing graphics||
|5/15||Project 6 (continued)||
|5/16||More on exploiting commonality||Homework #8
|5/19||Project 6 (continued) in lab but at class time||
|5/20||Project 6 (concludes)||
|5/26||Final exam, 10:30-12:30, OHS 321||
Course web site: http://www.gustavus.edu/~mc27/
Instructor: Max Hailperin <email@example.com>