CS 303e - Elements of Computers and Programming
                                             Spring 2013

Mary Eberlein, Ph.D.
PAI 5.48
eberlein at cs.utexas.edu
Office Hours: M 2:30-4 in PAI 5.38 (throughout January), and in GDC 6.302 (after January). Or by appointment - email me several times that you are available.

Course web page: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~eberlein/cs303e/

Teaching Assistants

  Kai-Yang Chiang (kychiang at cs.utexas.edu)
    Office Hours: TuW 5-7 pm

Ashley Oudenne (aoudenne at cs.utexas.edu)
    Office Hours: F 12-2, 3-4

Nazneen Rajani (nrajani at cs.utexas.edu)
    Office Hours: F 11-12, Tu 2-5

Hassaan Markhiani (hassaanmarkhiani at gmail.com)
    Office Hours: Th 3-5, F 12-2


Lisa Lippe (l.k.lippe at gmail.com)
    Office Hours: W 2-4

Ryan Montgomery (ryan.austin.montgomery at gmail.com)
    Office Hours: TuTh 11-12, Th 5-7

All TA and proctor office hours will be held in the GDC lab on the 3rd floor.

Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science, by Zelle (1st edition)
Note: There is a second edition of our textbook, but it is NOT appropriate for CS 303e. Make sure that you get the 1st edition.

Covered Material

computer organization
input and output
decision making
strings and lists
testing and debugging
other topics as time permits


I think we all wish that we could have courses without grades. You hate worrying about grades. I hate having to assign grades. But grades are essential to insuring that your degree has the value that it deserves. So we have a grading system and that system has to have two essential properties:
-It has to be fair to everyone in the class.
-It has to be a true measure of how much each student knows about the class material.
The system I will use in this class will assign grades as follows:
3 Exams (Feb 27, Apr 3, May 1)        (all cumulative, 20%, 20%, 30%)
Projects/homework assignments                                      20%
Quizzes                                                                             10%

The standard letter grade cutoffs will be applied, i.e., 90 - 100 % is an A, 80 - 89 % is a B, etc. These cutoffs may be changed to the benefit of the students at the instructor's discretion. The use of + and - grades may be used at the instructor's discretion as well; + and - grades will only possibly be used when it benefits the students. For example, if you have a 90% course average, you are guaranteed an A. But if you make 89%, it is possible that you could be assigned an A- or B+, rather than a B.

The exam dates given above are tentative and may be changed.

Your grade records will be maintained by your TA, normally the person who teaches your small discussion section. If you have questions or concerns about your grade, contact your TA during lab hours or by email.

Lab Exercises and Assignments
Assignments and lab exercises will usually be given every week. The due date for each assignment will be clearly stated. Respect Murphy's rule and plan for your bus to run late, your personal computer to crash the afternoon of the due date, etc.

Programs must include: your name, your partner's name if applicable, your section's unique number, your TA's name, the name of your partner's TA, and the assignment number, e.g. "Assignment 1".  Include all of this information in a comment at the top of your program file. Assignment files that are incorrectly named lose 4 points out of 20. Programs that do not compile will receive 0 points.

Unless otherwise noted, each lab exercise will be graded on a 20 point scale. Quizzes will all be graded on a 10 point scale. 

For your projects, you may use the PCs in PAI 5.38, and in ENS rooms 1 and 2. You are also free to work on your own computer. Programs must compile and run in the Painter Hall microlab.

Collaboration on Assignments

You are encouraged to study for exams together, to discuss methods for solving the assignments, to help each other in using the software, and to discuss methods for debugging code. On some specified assignments you may work with one other person - on these pair programming assignments, you must follow the pair programming guidelines on the course webpage. For the pair assignments, you will turn in the assignment to only one of your lab accounts, but be sure to include both of your names in the header and note that this is a pair assignment. Both students will receive the same grade for the assignment. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments must be done alone.

Exam Topics

Exams will cover material from lecture, discussion sections, assignments, and assigned readings. Exams will be cumulative, but they will be more heavily weighted towards material which has not yet been tested.


Announced and pop quizzes will be given frequently. Your lowest quiz grade will be dropped. No makeup quizzes will be given. I suggest that you plan to attend all classes and discussion sections so that you may drop a quiz you miss because of illness or emergency.

Late Work
Makeup exams and quizzes will not be given under any circumstances, though other arrangements may be made under exceptional conditions.

No lab assignment may be turned in more than 3 days late (that is, if the project is due at 10 pm on Thursday, it cannot be submitted after 10 pm the following Sunday). You will have 4 free late (slip) days in 1 day units (that is, 1 minute to 24 hours late = 1 slip day, etc.) for the projects this semester, but you cannot use slip days for the first or last programming assignment. You may divide your slip days across the remaining projects in any way you wish to extend deadlines for the projects, subject to the 4 day total maximum and the 3 day maximum per project. To help the TA track your slip-day status, add the following comment to the top of your .py file:

Pair Name 1: Slip days used for this project:____  Slip days used (total):_____
Pair Name 2: Slip days used for this project:____  Slip days used (total):_____

No other programming assignment extensions will be granted. I recommend that you plan to turn in all projects on time and use your slip days for unexpected illnesses or emergencies. If you are working with a pair partner on a project, you both use one slip day for each day your program is late.

Pair Programming
Some of the projects may be done in pairs. I will indicate clearly which projects must be done this way. Research has shown that students perform and learn better when pair programming is used to complete assignments. For pair programming projects, you and your partner must sit, design, and program together at least 80% of the time, and split keyboard time evenly. Each student can work independently for at most 10% of the time. See the page on pair programming for more information.

Find a partner during class time or using the class discussion group. You may switch partners for each pair project, or keep the same partner throughout the semester. Your partner does not have to be in your discussion section or have lecture at the same time as you. Once you choose a partner for a particular project, you cannot change partners for that assignment. In an emergency and with instructor approval (that is, your partner drops the course, gets sick, etc), you may independently do one pair assignment individually. You must first get prior email approval from me and the TA. Include in your assignment comments your former partner's name and your email correspondence with the TA and instructor.

Computers and Accounts
You must apply for a lab account no later than Friday, January 18th, at noon. I encourage you to apply for your account sooner (as soon as possible). It takes at least one business day (2-3 days is more common) for your account to be activated, and you will need your account during the second week of class. You will use this account in the PAI computer labs (PAI 5.38 and PAI 3.12) and to submit your programming assignments.

To sign up, use your own computer or use two special computers in the microlab (PAI 3.12) or the elements lab (PAI 5.38). Follow the instructions at https://udb.cs.utexas.edu/amut/acut/

Grade Changes
If you believe your work was graded incorrectly, you must present a written and email complaint to your TA (the TA who teaches your discussion section). The complaint must be submitted within one week of the date on which we first attempted to return the graded work to you. Your complaint must contain supporting evidence and arguments which explain why your work was graded incorrectly. It is not sufficient to submit a note that says "regrade question 3", for example. Grade change requests that do not meet these requirements will not be considered. Note that assigned grades are not the starting point of a negotiation. This isn't a weekend bazaar. Unless we have made a mistake in grading your work (i.e., you have a correct answer that was marked wrong, or your score was added incorrectly), your grade is final.

Note that none of the following grade discussions is appropriate:
(1) "I know my answer was wrong, but I deserve more partial credit points." When we grade, we make decisions about how many points to give for various kinds of wrong answers. This is never a clear cut decision. The important thing is that we make some decision and then implement it fairly for everyone. It is completely unfair to come back later and give one person more points just because they ask. We won't do it.
(2) "I don't like my final grade. It will ruin my life for the following reason: ... Therefore you should give me a better one." Class grades reflect only one thing: how well you did in the class. Life circumstances just don't play a role here. Don't come to me with this kind of argument.
(3) "I don't like my final grade. I am desperate. Isn't there some sort of extra credit thing I could do?" Any answer other than "No" to this question would be completely unfair to other students in the class unless they were all offered this option. That would be equivalent to saying that the semester isn't over and everyone can keep trying. We're not going to do this. Final grades are final.
(4) "I don't like my final grade. Can I have an incomplete and try again?" There are University rules for giving incompletes. If you meet those rules (e.g., you had a medical problem during the semester), then, of course, come and tell me and ask for an incomplete. But make sure you do it as soon as you can. Do not wait until the semester is over. If you do not meet the rules, the answer is "No".
(5) "I don't like my final grade. It doesn't reflect what I really know. I guess I didn't show what I know on the exams, but won't you give me a chance to convince you that I really know this stuff." Again, any answer other than "No" would be unfair to everyone else.

Academic Honesty and Inappropriate Collaboration
Unless otherwise specified by the instructor, you are expected to complete all work individually. You are permitted to talk about the assignments with other students, but the moment you start looking at another student's (or pair's) source code you have crossed the line into cheating.  I will use plagiarism detection software on various assignments to find students who have copied code from one another. Any program that you submit must be yours, and yours alone. 

Examples of cheating are: looking at someone else's program, writing your program while talking to someone else about it, talking another student through the solution code, allowing others to look at your solution code,  and looking on the internet for code to solve your programming assignments. If you have any doubts about what is allowed, ask the instructor. 

We follow the University's standard policies on academic honesty. They will be rigorously enforced. Cheating will result in action commensurate with the policies stated in the University's Manual on Academic Honesty. My penalty for cheating on an exam, quiz or assignment is an F in the course and a referral to the Dean of Students office. You are expected to do all work individually unless explicit permission for group work is given.

Religious Holy Days
A student who is absent from an examination or cannot meet an assignment deadline due to the observance of a religious holy day may take the exam on an alternate day or submit the assignment up to 24 hours late without penalty, if proper notice of the planned absence has been given. Notice must be given at least 14 days prior to the classes which will be missed. For religious holy days that fall within the first 2 weeks of the semester, notice should be given on the first day of the semester. Notice must be personally delivered to the instructor and signed and dated by the instructor, or sent certified mail. Email notification will be accepted if received, but a student submitting email notification must receive email confirmation from the instructor.

Students with Disabilities
The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accomodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY.