Welcome to CS21! This course will introduce fundamental ideas in computer science while also
teaching you how to write computer programs. We will study algorithms for
solving problems and implement solutions in the Python programming language. Python is an
interpreted language that is known for its ease of use. We also introduce
object-oriented programming and data structures. A deeper coverage of these
topics will be presented in CS35.
This course is appropriate for all students who want to learn how to write
computer programs and think like computer scientists. It is the usual first
course for computer science majors and minors. Students with advanced placement
credit or extensive programming experience should place out of this course and
instead begin with CS35. If you have no prior computer science or programming experience, this course is designed for you.
Goals for the Course
By the end of the course, we hope that you will have developed the
- Given a program, be able to simulate on paper how a computer would
execute the program, and show the results that would be produced.
- Given a problem, be able to design a clear, concise, and
correct pseudo code algorithm to solve it.
- Given a pseudo code algorithm, be able to successfully implement it in
- Be able to use top-down design to sub-divide a large problem into
reasonably-sized modular sub-problems.
- Given several algorithms for solving the same problem, be able
to analyze which algorithm would be more efficient in terms of running
- Develop debugging and unit testing skills. Consistently use
these skills while implementing programs.
- Learn to work as part of a team to solve problems starting from
design and continuing through to implementation.
Science Center 240
Text: Python Programming: an Introduction to Computer Science
by John Zelle
Professor: Richard Wicentowski
Science Center 251
Science Center 255
Maria Kelly, Ashley Oudenne
Other Section: Andrew Danner
Several student mentors will assist me in
class and run study sessions in the main CS lab (Science Center 240) on
the following evenings:
||Sci Center 240
||Sci Center 240
You are invited – and encouraged – to participate in these study
sessions to prepare for quizzes, to discuss programming concepts, and
to get friendly assistance in working on homework assignments. Our CS
mentoring team is dedicated to helping students, who have no prior
knowledge of computer science, learn to program in Python while
keeping their senses of humor intact. As an added bonus, free food
will be provided at the sessions.
Weekly Lab Sessions
The CS lab is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for you to use for
CS21 lab assignments. In addition, the CS21 professors will be in the
main CS labs to help CS21 students with their lab assignements. You
are not required to attend any of these sessions, but you should take
advantage of them to get assistance with your lab assignments. Any
CS21 student is welcome to attend any session.
|| Science Center 240
|| Science Center 240
||TOPIC & READING
||Introduction to Python and Unix
||Using Unix: 7:30 pm Sci240 (Jan 21)
Using Unix: 8:15 pm Sci240 (Jan 22)
||Numbers and Strings
Chapt. 3-4 (Skip 4.6)
Practice Quiz 1
||Practice Quiz 2
||Loops, Top Down Design
Chapt. 8, 9
||Practice Quiz 3
||Top Down Design, Loops
Chapt. 8, 9
||Searching, Analysis of Algorithms
||Practice Quiz 4
Quiz 4 (Double Quiz)
||More Recursion, More Sorting
||Practice Quiz 5
||Defining new classes
||Practice Quiz 6
||Object Oriented Design
Handout on Blackboard
||Practice Quiz 7
Final Exam: Friday, May 15 from 7 - 10pm
Grades will be weighted as follows:
Programming assignments will typically be assigned in class at the
beginning of the week and will be due before midnight the following
Tuesday night. You are strongly encouraged to start early and to
attend the study sessions for extra practice.
You will submit you assignments electronically using the
handin21 program. You may submit your assignment multiple
times, but each submission overwrites the previous one and only the
final submission will be graded. Late assignments will not be accepted
except in extreme situations and only if you contact me before the
deadline. Even if you do not fully complete an assignment, you may
submit what you have done to receive partial credit.
How to Succeed in CS21
Read the material before you come to class.
Don't worry about total comprehension, but at least get a feel for
what we will be covering that week. If you have some understanding of
the material coming into class, it will be easier for you to ask
questions during class, rather than later when help may not be
available. Additionally, we often do lab exercises during class. This
is an important part of the learning process, as these exercises give
you immediate experience with the material we are covering. If you
read the book before you come to class, you'll be able to complete
these exercises more easily.
Ask questions if you don't understand.
This means both during class and while doing your homework. This class
continually builds on previous material, so if you don't understand
something one week, it will continue to be a problem the next week,
and the week after that, and so on. If you need help, ask your classmates,
attend the study sessions, come talk with me during my office hours, or
email me your question.
Start the homework assignments early.
I realize this one is not always easy to do, but if you can get in the
habit of doing this, you will be much better off. If you get
stuck early (i.e., not two hours before it is due), there will be time
to look for help. In addition, if you start early enough, you can
take a break, go do something else, and come back later. I find I
always have at least a few new ideas when I come back to a problem
after a break. If you wait until the last minute, you can't do this.
Practice, practice, practice.
The only effective way to
learn the material and pass the quizes and exams is to consistently
do the homework. Finish all of the assigned programs (and do some extras,
for fun!). Even if you don't get them done on time, they will still
help you learn the material.
Seek help early and often.
Because course material builds
on previous material, it is essential to your success in this class
that you keep up with the course material. If you are having difficulty
with a programming assignment, if you didn't follow something covered
in lecture, if you feel you need some extra help understanding or
practicing some of the course material, or if you just want to discuss
something from a lecture, an assignment, or the text, please come to
my office hours.
Attend CS21 Study Sessions.
The CS21 Student Mentors (Ninjas)
hold evening study sessions each week.
You are encouraged to participate in these sessions. The Ninjas
will help you prepare for quizzes, will provide additional instruction
in programming concepts, and will provide friendly assistance on
your homework assignments.
Work with a partner.
Several of the assigments will
optionally allow you to work with a partner. This is highly
recommended: working with a partner can help you progress through the
assignment more quickly; partners can often catch silly coding
mistakes that may leave you frustrated for hours if working alone;
and, explaining concepts and ideas to a partner is a great way to help
you learn the material and clarify your thinking. If you are
interested in working with a partner but do not know who to ask,
contact me and I can try to pair you up with a compatible student.
Programming is not a dry mechanical process, but a form of art. Well
written code has an aesthetic appeal while poor form can make other
programmers and instructors cringe. Programming assignments will be
graded based on style and correctness. Good programming practices
usually include many of the following principles:
- A comment at the top of the program that includes:
- Program authors
- Date or Dates
- A brief description of what the program does
- Concise comments that summarize major sections of your
- Meaningful variable and function names
- Function comments that include:
- description of what function does
- description of input parameters
- description of return value or values
- Well organized code
- White space or comments to improve legibility
- Avoidance of lines longer than 80 characters (the default
width of the xemacs window)
- Avoidance of large blocks of copy-pasted code
Also, look over the Python Code Style Guide
for more details and some example of good style.
Academic honesty is required in all work you submit to be
graded. You may not submit work done with (or by) someone
else. You may not examine or use work done by others to
complete your own work. You may discuss assignment
specifications and requirements with others in the class to
be sure you understand the problem. In addition, you are
allowed to work with others to help learn the course
material. However, with the exception of the student
mentors and your partner on group assignments, you may not work
with others on your assignments.
All code you submit must be your own with the following
permissible exceptions: code distributed in class, code
found in the course text book, and code worked on with an
partner. In these cases, you should always include
detailed comments that indicates on which parts of the
assignment you received help, and what your sources were.
"It is the opinion of the faculty that for an intentional
first offense, failure in the course is normally appropriate.
Suspension for a semester or deprivation of the degree in that
year may also be appropriate when warranted by the seriousness
of the offense." - Swarthmore College Bulletin (2008-2009, Section 7.1.2)
Please see me if there are any questions about what is permissible.
Links that are related to the course may be posted here. If you have suggestions for links, let me know.
Python style guide From Prof. Tia Newhall
Using Unix Improved
How To Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python