Syllabus and general information for MCS-178: Introduction to Computer Science II (Fall 2001)


In MCS-178 we continue exploring the perspectives and methods of computer science, particularly abstraction. We'll first confront language issues by investigating how one might write and modify a Scheme system in Scheme, a so-called meta-circular evaluator. We'll next consider the notion of computations with changing state by looking "under the hood" at computers. We'll extend this notion of state into other areas, such as the use of state to construct more efficient computational processes than otherwise, and the use of object-based and object-oriented programming to model systems of objects with changing state. Finally, at the end of the semester we'll see how object-oriented programming plays out in a second programming language (Java) and take a brief look at its use in writing event-driven and concurrent programs (those that behave in response to user actions and those that do more than one thing at a time).

Office hours

I will be available in my office (OHS 303) 10:30-11:20 Tuesdays, 1:30-2:20 Wednesdays, 9:00-9:50 Thursdays, 10:30-11:20 Fridays, and by appointment. Or try your luck: just stop by and see whether my door is open. You may send me electronic mail at 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 After this syllabus I will give hardcopy handouts only to those students who want them.


The normal prerequisite is MCS-177 (or MC27).

Text and readings

The primary text for the course will be Concrete Abstractions: An Introduction to Computer Science by Max Hailperin, Barbara Kaiser, and Karl Knight. We will cover chapters 10-15.

There's also an on-line Java Tutorial at, and copies of several Java books in the MCS Lab monitors' room, any of which you are welcome to use as a supplement to the material on Java in our book.

Course structure

Classes will normally be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and labs will normally be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, there are a few exceptions, which are clearly marked on the class schedule. Note that all Monday/Wednesday/Friday sessions will be at 2:30, even when in the lab, and all Tuesday/Thursday sessions will be at 8:00, even when in class. Labs will be held in the OHS 326 lab, using the Linux computers. Karl Knight will be the lab instructor.


The two intra-term exams will be conducted during the evening from 7:00-8:30pm on October 9 and November 6, in OHS 103 and OHS 321, respectively. Please let me know as soon as possible if you won't be able to take the tests at those times. The final exam will be as scheduled by the registrar.

Mastery homework

The syllabus shows due dates for six homework assignments; each will typically consist of four or five 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 however many times it takes to reach the "mastered" point, even after the original due date. The only restrictions are these:

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.

Attendance policy

Attendance is expected for all lab days. (If you turn in a lab report early, you are excused from the remaining days devoted to that lab.) I will excuse up to three lab absences per student, for any reason. Use yours wisely. If you exceed this allowance, I may reduce your course grade by one letter grade.

With regard to the class days, you are responsible for all course material, whether or not you are present when it was covered or distributed.


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 dishonorable.

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 action.

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.

Late lab assignments

All lab 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 I've handed graded assignments back or discussed the assignment's solutions in class.

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.

Grade changes

Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading, and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I have been especially unjust.


I will provide you with a grade on each lab 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 components will contribute in the following proportion to the final grade: However, I reserve the right to subjectively adjust your final grade. Please see me if you have any question how you stand. Class participation is not graded; however, it allows you to find and repair the gaps in your understanding before doing the homework or exam, and thus can dramatically improve your grade.

Style guidelines

All homework and lab reports should be readily readable, and should not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. In particular: For a more detailed set of guidelines, see "Suggestions for Clear Lab Reports in Computer Science Courses". I recommend that you look at this document and, if you have questions about lab write-ups, ask your lab instructor. He will also join us in class September 22nd for a workshop on writing lab reports.


Please contact me immediately if you have a learning or physical disability requiring accommodation.


When a reading is indicated as going to a particular page number, it means up to the heading on that page. The same section number on the next class day then indicates to finish the section.

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 syllabi.
9/610.3Micro-Scheme (class instead of lab, OHS 321)
9/7More on Micro-Scheme

9/1010.4Global definitions: Mini-Scheme
9/11Lab 1: Extending evaluators
9/1210.5Adding explanatory output
9/13Lab 1 (continued)
9/14More on explanatory output

9/1711.1-11.2The SLIM architectureHW 1
9/18Lab 1 (continued)
9/1911.3SLIM's instruction set
9/20Lab 1 (concludes)
9/21Lab report writing workshop

9/2411.4Iteration in assembly languageLab 1
9/25Lab 2: Assembly language programming
9/2611.5Recursion in assembly language
9/27Lab 2 (continued)
9/28More on assembly programming

10/111.6Memory in Scheme: vectors
10/4Lab 2 (concludes)
10/5Review; catch-upHW 2

10/812.1-12.2Revisiting tree recursionLab 2
10/9Test 1, 7:00-8:30pm, OHS 103; no lab
10/11Lab 3: Formatting paragraphs
10/1212.4Dynamic programming

10/1512.5Comparing memoization and dynamic programming
10/16Lab 3 (continued)
10/17More on memoization and dynamic programmingHW 3
10/18Lab 3 (concludes)

10/2313.1-13.2Arithmetic expressions revisited (class, not lab; unusual room: OHS 320)Lab 3
10/2413.3RA-stacks and rep. invariants
10/25Lab 4: Robots
10/26More on RA-stacks and rep. invariants

10/30Lab 4 (continued)
10/3113.5Red-black treesHW 4
11/1Lab 4 (concludes)

11/5Review; catch-upLab 4
11/6Lab 5: Dictionaries; Test 2, 7:00-8:30pm, OHS 321
11/714.1-14.2Object-oriented programming
11/8Lab 5 (continued)
11/9More on object-oriented programming

11/1214.3Extensions/variations on compu-duds
11/13Lab 5 (concludes)
11/1414.5The Land of GackLab 5
11/15Lab 6: Adventures in the Imaginary Land of Gack
11/1614.4-p. 529Implementing object-oriented programming

11/1914.4More on implementation of o-o programmingHW 5
11/20Lab 6 (continued)
11/21Lab 6 (continued) (lab instead of class)

11/27Lab 6 (concludes)
11/28More on JavaLab 6
11/29Lab 7: Java and Concurrency
11/3015.3Event-driven GUI programming in Java

12/3More on event-driven GUI programming
12/4Lab 7 (continued)
12/6Lab 7 (continued)
12/7More on concurrency

12/10Lab 7 (continued) (lab instead of class)HW 6
12/11Lab 7 (concludes)
12/12Review and evaluationLab 7

12/15Final, 1-3pm, OHS 321

Course web site:
Instructor: Max Hailperin <>
Lab instructor: Karl Knight <>