CS 112
Fall 2013

1 Course Basics

1.1 Course Outcomes

  • An ability to use procedural programming language concepts including expressions, decision statements, simple data types, Boolean logic, input/output, loop constructs, and procedures.
  • An ability to combine programming techniques to solve problems of varying degrees of difficulty.
  • An ability to refine computer programs through testing and debugging to ensure proper operation.
  • An ability to find and understand programming language documentation to learn new information needed to solve programming problems.

1.2 Prerequisites

C or better in MATH 104, 105, or 113 (or sufficient score on the math placement test).

Important Note about CS 101. CS 101 is a requirement for all CS/ACS majors, but not for non-majors. CS/ACS Majors are expected to take CS 101 with their first CS class, typically CS 112. Thus if you are taking 112 this semester and are a CS or ACS major, you are very strongly encouraged to enroll in CS 101.

1.3 Text

The Practice of Computing Using Python, Second Edition. William Punch and Richard Enbody.

An eText version is available.

Readings will be suggested, but there will not be required problems from the book.

An older version of the text uses Python 2.7.x, instead of Python 3.x. There are a few significant differences in syntax, but if you can keep track of these (and different page numbers), you might be able to use an old version of the book if you've already got access to it.

2 Contact Information

Professoroffice hourscontact
Mark SnyderENGR 5346, T 2–4pmmsnyde14@gmu.edu
Sean LukeSee Professor's Home Pagesean@cs.gmu.edu
Yotam GingoldENGR 4427, TR 10:30–11:30amygingold@cs.gmu.edu

2.1 Contacting Us

All correspondence will go through Piazza. You can send private messages to the instructors (professor, GTAs, UTAs all) as well as post public questions visible to all students, collaborate on responses, and tag everything by topic.

2.2 Course Materials

All assignments will be submitted (per published deadlines) via Blackboard. This is basically the only use for Blackboard in the course. (submitting work, viewing grades).

Course discussions will take place on Piazza. Go sign up now, so you don't miss announcements.

Documents such as GTA/UTA contacts, schedules, and lecture slides will be on piazza.

3 Grading

The course will have a midterm and a final. Much of the work during the semester will be completing projects, as well as regular assessments in lab (quizzes and programming tasks).

In general, all work should be available about one week after turning it in.

CategoryPercent Final Grade
Lab Assessments15%
Final Exam25%

3.1 Projects

All project grades will be averaged together. Projects are due at a specific time on a specific day. Each 24-hour period that is entered before turning in the assignment will incur a 25% “ceiling penalty”. This means your score will be the minimum between what functionality score you achieve on it and the penalties score. For instance, turning in an assignment 25 hours late is two “days” late, so the lateness penalty score would be 100-25-25 = 50%. If you scored a 93% for functionality, you would actually receive min(93,50)=50%. If you scored only a 43% for functionality, your score would be min(43,50)=43%. This is much better than a flat percentage penalty off—the missed points overlap with the penalty!

Each student will be given three Late-Day tokens to skip the late assignment penalty. They are automatically applied to the earliest late submissions.

The last project might not be allowed to be turned in late at all, to facilitate grading by the deadline. If this is the case, leftover late-day tokens will be worth a small reward.

The lowest project grade will be dropped.

After the first two projects, any code turned in that does not compile (specifically on Python 3) will receive at most 50%. No exceptions. At this point, if the grader is able to quickly fix your code, you might get some points back. If the grader cannot immediately spot and fix the issue, you'll be fortunate to get any points at all.

Turning in code that runs is a big deal!

3.1.1 Turning it in on BlackBoard

You can submit your work an unlimited number of times to BlackBoard, and only the last version will be graded. You can also download your submitted attempts, and verify that you turned in a working copy.

Turning in the wrong files will likely result in a zero.

Catastrophic computer failure will not be cause for an extension. Use a backup service such as DropBox (or any cloud service), emailing yourself, storing to a USB drive, whatever it takes.

3.2 Lab Assessments

All lab assessment grades will be averaged together. Lab assessments will be either paper-and-pencil quizzes or computer-based tasks.

Any missed lab assessment is simply missed, regardless of the reason why (travel, illness, work, traffic, etc.)

We will drop the lowest two grades from this category.

If you choose to miss some early on, and later on have to miss for some understandable reason, that is too bad. Try to save them so you can actually throw out a bad grade, and not just to hide some zeroes.

3.3 Midterm and Final Exam

The midterm and final exam will focus on performing programming. They will be entirely paper and pencil—no computers. All students must have their GMU identification available on testing days.

If you miss the midterm, and a valid reason is verified with documentation (ER visit, traffic accident, violent illness), I may elect to allow the final exam to count 40% to give you a sort of do-over. This policy is not automatic, however.

If you miss the final, there is very little I can do for you. Don't miss the final!

The final will not be given early. You are starting the course with knowledge of the schedule (see below).

You must pass the final exam to pass the course. You also need to have a passing percentage grade, but failure on the final exam indicates a systemic lack of true progress. Generally, students who fail the final exam do not have a passing grade in the course anyways.

There will only be a curve if a specific question ends up being too ambiguous or otherwise obviously unfair.

SectionFinal Exam DateFinal Exam Time
001, 002, 003 TBA TBA
004Tues 12/1710:30a–1:15p
005Thurs 12/127:30a–10:15a

3.4 Calculating Semester Grades

  • Given the percentages above, the allowed assessment/project drops, you should always be able to calculate your semester grade at any point in the semester.
  • There will be no make-up or extra-credit assignments at the end of the semester; your grade should be a measure of your semester-long progress.

Grades will be assessed on the following scale:

GradeCut-off Score
A+98 %
A92 %
A-90 %
B+88 %
B82 %
B-80 %
C+78 %
C72 %
C-70 %
D60 %

3.5 Contested Grades

If you feel points have been incorrectly deducted, contact the grader. For all projects and lab assessments, that either your lab GTA or someone who signed your grade comments. For the midterm and final exam, that is your professor.

If you have not initiated contact within a week of receiving the grade, it is too late. We cannot entertain a swarm of contested grades at the eleventh hour to try to maximize end-of-semester grades.

We strive to grade each student's work fairly and uniformly, often through specific tests, which might even be automated as part of the grading process.

4 The Honor Code

The honor code at George Mason is an important part of our academic culture. A degree from this institution should be a direct measure of your own progress and abilities, and as such at all times we must ensure that all work that should be your own is your own.

I personally take the honor code very seriously. Any attempts at sharing code, algorithms, or other violations of the honor code simply will not be tolerated.

As seductively simple as it may seem to just copy and paste work from a friend, remember that it is just as easy to compare your work electronically, and discover the similarities. Repeat to yourself: it's not worth trying to cheat. I will catch it, and sadly but surely, I will turn it in.

The penalty for cheating will be far worse than a zero grade.

4.1 Some Specifics and Links

5 Learning Disabilities

If you have a documented learning disability or other condition that may affect academic performance you must (a) make sure this documentation is on file with Office for Disability Services (SUB I, Rm. 4205; 993-2474;http://ods.gmu.edu) and (b) speak with the professor ASAP to discuss your accommodation needs.

6 Schedule

Reading Descriptions:

  • LANG readings are from for the language manual.
  • LIB readings are from the library documentation.
  • TEXT readings are from our text.
WeekWeek of…Lecture TopicsLab TopicReadings (pre-lecture)
1M 8/26course introinstalling PythonUsing the Zeus Cluster (an option for your programming environment)
numbers, expressionsTEXT (0.1-0.7): basic intro to CS
strings, printing
2M 9/2basic algorithms, pseudocodebasicsLIB (4.4): numeric types
variables, identifiers, keywordsTEXT (1.1-1.4): interactive session, parts of a program
assignment, statements vs expressionsLANG (1.2): notation (BNF)
getting user inputLANG (2.1.3 comments, 2.1.8 indentation, 2.3-2.3.1 identifiers and keywords, 2.5 operators)
LIB (2 built-in functions)
comments, code hygieneTEXT (Ch.1 "beginnings", Ch.3 "Algorithms and Program Development")
3M 9/9booleans, boolean operationsbasics, booleansLANG (6.9-6.10) comparisons, boolean operations
selection statementsLANG (8.1) if statements
LIB (4.1-4.3) truth-value testing, boolean operations, comparisons
TEXT (Ch.2 "Control")
4M 9/16looping statements: while, forselection stmtsLANG (8.2-8.3) while, for statements
5M 9/23more control flow practicecontrol flowLIB (4.6-4.6.1) string sequence type, common sequence operations
lists, tuplesTEXT (Ch.4, "Working with Strings")
string operationsLIB (27.3-27.4) python debugger and commands
testing via print statementsLIB (4.6.3) mutable sequence operations
TEXT (Ch.7, "Lists and Tuples")
6M 9/30functions introlists, tuples, stringsTEXT (CH.8.1-8.2, "Functions and Scope")
parameters, return valuesTEXT (Ch. 6, "Functions - QuickStart")
7M 10/7scope, mutability across func. callsfunctions
8M 10/14modulesfunctions, mutability
Wed/Thurs: MIDTERM
9M 10/21dictionaries, setsmodules, dictionariesLIB (4.9-4.10) sets, mapping types
TEXT (Ch.9 "Dictionaries and Sets")
10M 10/28file input/outputfile I/OTEXT (CH.5 "Files and Exceptions I", 14.1-14.2 "More Details on Files" and "CSV FIles")
11M 11/4more exceptions(no lab, on break)LANG (4.2 Exceptions, 7.8 raise statement)
12M 11/11recursionexceptionsTEXT (Ch.16, "Recursion")
13M 11/18basics of object oriented programmingrecursionTEXT (Ch. 11.1-11.2 OO Programming, 11.7 "Python and OOP")
TEXT (Ch. 11.3-11.6, classes and objects in Python)
14M 11/25classes: creation, usagewriting/using classes
15M 12/2extra topicsreview/course evals
(finish up topics; review for final)

7 Other useful campus resources