Computer Science 302: Computer Fluency

Fall 2012 Syllabus

Teaching Staff



Office Hours



Bruce Porter

ACE 3.428

Tuesday: 4:00-5:00, Thursday 10:30-11:30, also available other times by appointment


Teaching Assistants



         Office Hours



PAI 5.33



Course Description

Many people are confused (or misled) about computer science. It's not about the intricacies of a baroque word processor nor the peculiar syntax of some programming language. Sure, computer scientists may know these things - but who cares? - that's not what's interesting. Computer science is about solving hard problems using logical thinking, then testing out candidate solutions by implementing them on a computer, a machine that at times seems incredibly powerful and other times profoundly incapable.

This class will focus on algorithms - precise instructions for solving a problem. You'll learn to create algorithms, analyze whether they're good, and communicate them to computers. The class will explore some of the most challenging algorithms, such as the ones that control the inner workings of a computer and the ones that drive the internet. Finally, we will discuss some of the impacts of computers on people and societies.

Text Book

An Invitation to Computer Science: Java Version by Schneider and Gersting. This book may be helpful, but is not required.


Friday's are lab days, and attendance is required. Please attend the lab in which you are registered. Attending a different lab is risky because space is limited and priority will be given to registered students.


We plan to discuss these topics:

1. Computer Science: The Study of Algorithms - algorithm discovery and design - algorithm efficiency

2. Computer programming - Java fundamentals - object-oriented programming

3. Computer Hardware - binary numbers and arithmetic - gates and circuits - computer organization

4. Computer Networks: the Internet and the World Wide Web

5. The Future of Computing - artificial intelligence - social impacts


Final Grades will be assigned based on the following:

  1. 3 exams, each contributing 25% of the final grade
  2. Lab exercises contributing 25% of the final grade

Lab exercises are assigned every week. You may feel that you're spending a lot of time on them, given the small amount they contribute to your grade.  However, be aware that the exams will draw heavily from the lab exercises; doing well on the labs will help you do well on the exams.

Lab exercises must be turned in by the deadline, which will be specified on each one. Late submissions will not be accepted. However, your lowest grade on lab exercises will be omitted from the calculation of final grades.

There will be three exams during the semester. Dates for exams will be announced two weeks in advance.


There may be a few pop quizzes during the semester. Grades on pop quizzes will be factored into the exam grades.  

Staying in Touch

Class information will be posted frequently on UT's Blackboard system You are responsible for visiting that site at least every two days.

Policy on Academic Honesty

All assignments and projects must be done individually, except when group work has been approved by the instructor in advance. Cheating, as defined by the policy of the UT/CS department will be dealt with harshly.