Corequisite: MATH140; and permission of CMNS-Computer Science department.
CMSC 131A is an introduction to computing and programming. Its major goal is to introduce students to the principles of systematic problem solving through programming and the basic rules of computation.
The course does not assume any prior
programming experience. It is therefore suitable for all freshman
The following topics will be covered in this course:
How to program
How to design
Design with fixed-size data
Design with arbitrarily large data
Design with abstractions
Recursion with accumulators
Grades will be maintained on the CS Department grades server. You can always see your current grade here.
You are responsible for all material discussed in lecture and discussion section and posted on the class web page, including announcements, deadlines, policies, etc.
Your final course grade will be determined according to the following percentages:
Midterm 1, Oct 2
Midterm 2, Nov 6
Final Exam, Dec 15, 8–10 am
There will be weekly problem sets, due Fridays at 11:59pm EST. All problem sets are done with assigned pairs and submitted using the submit server.
Clicker quizzes will be given in-class during lectures. You have to bring your clicker to all lectures. You can register your clicker on the ELMS web page.
We will drop the 20% lowest clicker quizzes to compensate for your absence or other clicker related problems.
Laptops will not be permitted in class.
Course staff will interact with students outside of class in primarily three ways: in-person during office hours, electronically via the web forum and course web page, and electronically via e-mail. The large majority of communication should employ the first two methods, reserving e-mail for personal (presumably rare) circumstances.
Personalized assistance, e.g., with assignments or exam preparation, will be provided during office hours. Office hours for the instructional staff will be posted on the course web page a few days into the semester.
Additional assistance will provided via the Piazza web forum. You may use this forum to ask general questions of interest to the class as a whole, e.g., administrative issues or problem set clarification questions. The course staff will monitor piazza on a daily basis, but do not expect immediate answers to questions. Please do not post publicly any information that would violate the university academic integrity policy (e.g., problem set code).
Piazza allows students to post private questions that are only visible to instructors. Please use this feature if you wish to ask specific questions concerning your assignment solutions.
Personal e-mail to instructors or TAs should be reserved for issues that cannot be handled by the above methods.
Important announcements will be made in class or on the class web page, and via piazza.
Any student who needs to be excused for an absence from a single lecture, recitation, or lab due to illness shall:
Make a reasonable attempt to inform the instructor of his/her illness prior to the class.
Upon returning to the class, present their instructor with a self-signed note attesting to the date of their illness. Each note must contain an acknowledgment by the student that the information provided is true and correct. Providing false information to University officials is prohibited under Part 9(h) of the Code of Student Conduct (V-1.00(B) University of Maryland Code of Student Conduct) and may result in disciplinary action.
Missing an exam for reasons such as illness, religious observance, participation in required university activities, or family or personal emergency (such as a serious automobile accident or close relative’s funeral) will be excused so long as the absence is requested in writing at least 2 days in advance and the student includes documentation that shows the absence qualifies as excused; a self-signed note is not sufficient as exams are Major Scheduled Grading Events. For this class, such events are the final exam, and the two midterms, which will be given in class on the following dates:
Midterm 1: Oct 2
Midterm 2: Nov 6
Final Exam: Dec 15, 8–10 am
The final exam is scheduled according to the University Registrar.
For medical absences, you must furnish documentation from the health care professional who treated you. This documentation must verify dates of treatment and indicate the timeframe that the student was unable to meet academic responsibilities. In addition, it must contain the name and phone number of the medical service provider to be used if verification is needed. No diagnostic information will ever be requested. Note that simply being seen by a health care professional does not constitute an excused absence; it must be clear that you were unable to perform your academic duties.
It is the University’s policy to provide accommodations for students with religious observances conflicting with exams, but it is the your responsibility to inform the instructor in advance of intended religious observances. If you have a conflict with one of the planned exams, you must inform the instructor prior to the end of the first two weeks of the class.
For missed exams due to excused absences, the instructor will arrange a makeup exam. If you might miss an exam for any other reason other than those above, you must contact the instructor in advance to discuss the circumstances. We are not obligated to offer a substitute assignment or to provide a makeup exam unless the failure to perform was due to an excused absence.
The policies for excused absences do not apply to project assignments. Projects will be assigned with sufficient time to be completed by students who have a reasonable understanding of the necessary material and begin promptly. In cases of extremely serious documented illness of lengthy duration or other protracted, severe emergency situations, the instructor may consider extensions on project assignments, depending upon the specific circumstances.
Besides the policies in this syllabus, the University’s policies apply during the semester. Various policies that may be relevant appear in the Undergraduate Catalog.
If you experience difficulty during the semester keeping up with the academic demands of your courses, you may consider contacting the Learning Assistance Service in 2201 Shoemaker Building at (301) 314-7693. Their educational counselors can help with time management issues, reading, note-taking, and exam preparation skills.
Students with disabilities who have been certified by Disability Support Services as needing any type of special accommodations should see the instructor as soon as possible during the schedule adjustment period (the first two weeks of class). Please provide DSS’s letter of accommodation to the instructor at that time.
All arrangements for exam accommodations as a result of disability must be made and arranged with the instructor at least three business days prior to the exam date; later requests (including retroactive ones) will be refused.
The Campus Senate has adopted a policy asking students to include the following statement on each examination or assignment in every course: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment)." Consequently, you will be requested to include this pledge on each exam and project. Please also carefully read the Office of Information Technology’s policy regarding acceptable use of computer accounts.
Problem sets are to be written solely with your assigned partner, therefore cooperation with others or use of unauthorized materials on problem sets is a violation of the University’s Code of Academic Integrity. Both the person receiving assistance and the person providing assistance are in violation of the honor code. Any evidence of this, or of unacceptable use of computer accounts, use of unauthorized materials or cooperation on exams or quizzes, or other possible violations of the Honor Code, will be submitted to the Student Honor Council, which could result in an XF for the course, suspension, or expulsion.
For learning the course concepts, students are welcome to study together or to receive help from anyone else. You may discuss with others the problem set requirements, the features of the programming languages used, what was discussed in class and in the class web forum, and general syntax errors. Examples of questions that would be allowed are "Does a cond expression always end with an else-clause?" or "What does a ’mismatched parenthesis’ error indicate?", because they convey no information about the contents of a problem set.
When it comes to actually writing a project assignment, other than help from the instructional staff a project must solely and entirely be your and your partner’s own work. Working with another student or individual, or using anyone else’s work in any way except as noted in this paragraph, is a violation of the code of academic integrity and will be reported to the Honor Council. You may not discuss design of any part of a problem set with anyone except the instructor, teaching assistants, and your assigned partner for that problem set. Examples of questions you may not ask others might be "How did you implement this part of the problem set?" or "Please look at my code and help me find my stupid syntax error!". You may not use any disallowed source of information in creating either their project design or code. When writing projects you are free to use ideas or short fragments of code from published textbooks or publicly available information, but the specific source must be cited in a comment in the relevant section of the program.
Violations of the Code of Academic Integrity may include, but are not limited to:
Failing to do all or any of the work on a project by yourself, other than assistance from the instructional staff.
Using any ideas or any part of another person’s project, or copying any other individual’s work in any way.
Giving any parts or ideas from your project, including test data, to another student.
Allowing any other students access to your program on any computer system.
Posting solutions to your projects to publicly-accessible sites, e.g., on github.
Transferring any part of a problem set to or from another student or individual by any means, electronic or otherwise.
If you have any question about a particular situation or source then consult with the instructors in advance. Should you have difficulty with a programming assignment you should see the instructional staff in office hours, and not solicit help from anyone else in violation of these rules.
It is the responsibility, under the honor policy, of anyone who suspects an incident of academic dishonesty has occurred to report it to their instructor, or directly to the Honor Council.
Every semester the department has discovered a number of students attempting to cheat on assignments, in violation of academic integrity requirements. Students’ academic careers have been significantly affected by a decision to cheat. Think about whether you want to join them before contemplating cheating, or before helping a friend to cheat.
You are welcome and encouraged to study and compare or discuss their implementations of the problem sets with any others after they are graded, provided that all of the students in question have received nonzero scores for that assignment, and if that assignment will not be extended upon in a later assignment.
If you have a suggestion for improving this class, don’t hesitate to tell the instructor or TAs during the semester. At the end of the semester, please don’t forget to provide your feedback using the campus-wide CourseEvalUM system. Your comments will help make this class better.