Please read this document carefully. It contains answers to most of the questions that students ask during the first few weeks of class. The subjects include: how to contact the staff, prerequisites, textbooks, labs, grading, late penalties, and policies on academic misconduct. There is a class Web page at http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~jrs/61b. A list of discussion sections, labs, and the TAs who run them is linked from the Web page. A tentative syllabus, which includes reading assignments, exam dates, and due dates, is also available. Several online handouts are available. Please check the class Web page at the beginning of the semester and regularly throughout to learn about new information and syllabus changes.
If you have a general question about something not covered herein, the best option is to post a message in the ucb.class.cs61b newsgroup. We (the instructor and TAs) check the newsgroup regularly, and other students will be able to help you too. Other students will also be able to benefit from the answers. If you don't want to make your question public, you may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email will be forwarded to the instructor and all the TAs. If you wish to talk with one of us individually, you are welcome to come to our office hours, posted on our doors and linked from the Web page. If the office hours are not convenient, you may make an appointment with any of us by email. There are about 50 of you to every one of us, so please reserve email for the questions you can't get answered in office hours, in discussion sections, or through the class newsgroup.
Prof. Jonathan Shewchuk
Office: 625 Soda Hall
Office: 385 Soda Hall
Summer Misherghi, email@example.com
Alice Gutman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yan Chen, email@example.com
Karim Abbadi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yozo Hida, email@example.com
Aaron Fiske, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lan Tang, email@example.com
Paul Green, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sumeet Shendrikar, email@example.com
Lectures are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm in 1 Pimental Hall.
If you have not taken either CS 61A or E 77N, chances are you will not be admitted to the course. If you have taken a course you feel is very similar to CS 61A (not just a programming introduction, but one that covers the topics above), fill out an appeal form in the main CS office, 393 Soda Hall. I do not handle appeals, so please do not attempt to lobby me for admission to the course. If you try to stay in the course when you have not satisfied the prerequisite, you will receive an F as your final grade.
We will be using the Java programming language in this course. Knowledge of Java (or related languages like C++) is not required for this course. You may have heard that Java is a language for programming Web applications and developing animated home pages. This is partly true, but neither of these will be covered in this course. We will simply use Java as a better language for writing large, modular programs than many of the alternatives.
If you have already taken a data structures course in any programming language (e.g., Pascal), you may not need to take CS 61B. If you know Java as well, you might be able to skip CS 61B entirely, and if you don't, you might only need to take CS 9G (self-paced Java). If you feel that this course may be repeating prior experience, please see Mike Clancy in 779 Soda.
If you are not familiar with the Unix operating system and basic tools, either because you did not take CS 61A, or you got through CS 61A without understanding Unix, it is important that you learn. Some student groups, including CSUA, teach help sessions on Unix. See the CSUA Web pages.
These texts should be available at the ASUC bookstore or across Bancroft at either Ned's or the Campus Textbook Exchange. Arnow and Weiss give an introduction to programming in Java. Their book is not meant to be a complete reference to all of the concepts in Java. We will be using the Arnow and Weiss book during the first month, so purchase it soon. If you are an experienced C hacker, I also recommend David Flanagan, Java in a Nutshell. The chapter entitled How Java Differs from C can bring a C programmer up to speed in Java remarkably quickly. The Goodrich and Tamassia book is on data structures and uses Java in the code examples.
You should also buy the class reader, available at Copy Central at 2483 Hearst. The bulk of the reader is old CS 61B exams and sample solutions. The remainder is information on using the compilers, debugger, and editor.
Electronic copies of all class handouts will also appear on the Web page. There may be up to three types of files. Raw ASCII text (README files and other filenames without an extension) should be printed using the enscript command. PostScript files (filenames ending in .ps) must be printed using the lp command. (Do not use enscript on a .ps file! You'll just print reams of garbage.) HTML files (filenames ending in .html) should be printed using the Print command on the File menu in Netscape.
The TAs and I will post announcements, clarifications, hints, and other information in the ucb.class.cs61b newsgroup, which you should read regularly whether you post questions to it or not, so that you're not the last to find out about major changes to assignments and midterm dates. Send questions or information of general class-related interest to this newsgroup using the Netscape Web browser or the trn news reader, which have facilities for reading and posting messages.
Laboratory sections, which are two-hour slots in the second half of the week, are mandatory. Each week you will solve an assignment in the lab, and have points checked off by your TA. Discussions sections are not mandatory, and nothing done in section will directly affect your grade. On the other hand, discussion sections are your best opportunity to ask questions and learn interactively, and some examples worked out in section will be helpful on the graded assignments. Midterms will be returned in section.
Account forms will be given out in lab during the first week, so it is important that you attend. If you miss your first lab, account forms will be available from Sue Devries in 385 Soda. It is important that you login to your account and change your password during the first week; we use the information about who has logged in along with the TeleBears roster to determine who will receive grades in the class.
In addition to the scheduled labs, there will be periods during which the lab assistants are available to answer questions in 277 Soda. A list of these times will be posted outside the lab. The Soda labs are open from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm Monday through Friday. Outside these hours, the doors to the building and lab are locked. You will need to obtain a card key for after hours access; these will not be available immediately, because we need an accurate list of who is in the class first. An announcement will be made in lecture when they are ready. For those of you with labs in the late evening, someone from your lab will wait near the third floor entrance of Soda to let you into the building.
If you are on the waiting list for the course, the reason is that you are waiting to be admitted to a lab/discussion section that is currently full. You need to choose a section that is not full if you want to take the class. We will try to add enough sections so that everyone with the prerequisites is admitted to the course (subject to TA availability), but the new lab times will be early in the morning or late in the evening. We cannot let you into sections that are full, so if you insist on waiting for a full section to have space, you will not be allowed to attend lab (and therefore you won't get credit for the lab), and you will most likely never be admitted to the course.
If you are something other than a regular Berkeley undergraduate, then you probably need a signature on a form admitting you to the course. I cannot promise to admit those of you who are not regular Berkeley students. In particular, I might not sign any concurrent enrollment or UC Extension forms until after the second week of classes. Meanwhile, you should get your computer account and begin doing the course work on the assumption that you will be admitted. You will need to choose one of the lab times that is not overbooked.
In addition to exams, there are three types of assignments: homeworks, labs, and projects. Homeworks (roughly one per week) involve written assignments and programming. Homeworks must be done individually. They are typically due before lecture on Wednesdays, and will be graded by one of the class readers. Homeworks are worth a total of 20 points out of the 200, and each homework is equally weighted. For example, if there are 10 homeworks during the semester, each is worth 2 points of your final grade. You will find that some homeworks are much easier than others, but they all have the same weight.
Labs are short programming assignments that must be done during the scheduled lab period in the latter part of the week. Labs are done in teams of two. Grading of labs is done by having certain steps checked off by your TA or a lab assistant. Labs are worth 10 points of your final grade, and each lab is equally weighted. Since I expect you to have conflicts from time to time during the semester, we will ignore your two lowest lab grades.
The remaining 70 points of your final grade will come from the programming projects. There will be three of these during the semester. The first and last projects will be worth 20 points; the second will be worth 30 points. You will do the first project individually, and the second and third projects in teams of two or three students each.
The projects are a great deal of work, and cannot be put off until the last moment. If you start working on a project a few days before its due date, you will not be close to finished by the deadline.
Your final letter grade will be determined by the following formula: 185 or above is an A+, 175-184 is an A, and down by ten points each to the lowest passing grade (D-, 75-84). In other words, there is no curve; your grade will depend only on how you do and not on how well everyone else does. Occasionaly, we may decide that one assignment or exam was unreasonably difficult, and raise the scores on that assignment. However, our experience is that grades on homeworks and projects are higher than on exams, so you should assume this will be the case for your own grades and not be surprised if your exam grades are lower than your final grade, while your homeworks and projects are higher.
Everything you turn in for grading must show your name, your computer account, and your lab section number. You will receive no credit for assignments that are turned in without this information. Most, and perhaps all, assignments will be turned in electronically. Your grades will be recorded online and can be viewed using the glookup program.
If you believe we have misgraded a midterm exam question or project, return it to your lab TA with a written note on a separate piece of paper explaining the problem. If you're requesting an exam regrade, please staple this paper to the front of the exam. The entire exam or project will be regraded, so be sure to check the solutions to confirm that your final grade will go up after regrading. All requests for regrades and recording corrections must be made within two weeks after you receive the graded assignment or exam. By University policy, final exams may not be regraded.
A course grade of Incomplete will be granted only for dire medical or personal emergencies that cause you to miss the final, and only if your work up to that point has been satisfactory.
On programming projects, we do allow assignments to be turned in late, but there is a penalty. If an assignment is N hours late, we'll reduce your earned score by ceiling(N/2) percent. While this gives you some leeway for putting the final touches on a project, do not stretch the deadlines too far. A project that is one day late will lose 12% of your earned score. After five days, even a perfect solution won't earn a passing grade.
We encourage you to help each other learn the material by discussing the work before you do each assignment. I believe that most students can distinguish between helping other students and cheating. For example, explaining the meaning of a question or offering advice on what a compiler error message means are interactions that we encourage. On the other hand, you should never have another student's solution in your possession, either electronically or on paper. (We will call this the ``No Code Rule.'') If you are not sure whether a particular interaction is appropriate, talk to your TA or the instructor. If you receive a significant idea from someone in the class, explicitly acknowledge that person in your solution. Not only is this a good scholarly conduct, it also protects you from accusations of theft of your colleagues' ideas.
Presenting another person's work as your own constitutes cheating, whether that person is a friend, an unknown student in this class or a previous semester's class, or an anonymous programmer on the Web who happens to have solved the problem you've been asked to solve. Everything you turn in must be your own doing, and it is your responsibility to make it clear to the graders that it really is your own work. The following activities are specifically forbidden in all graded course work:
Cheating will be policed by advanced cheating-detection software. If you share code with another team, you will be caught, even if you take steps to hide your cheating.
In my experience, nobody begins the semester with the intention of cheating. Students who cheat do so because they fall behind gradually and then panic. Some students get into this situation because they are afraid of an unpleasant conversation with a professor if they admit to not understanding something. I would much rather deal with your misunderstanding early than deal with its consequences later. Even if you are convinced that you are the only person in the class that doesn't understand the material, and that it is entirely your fault for having fallen behind, please overcome your feeling of guilt and ask for help as soon as you need it. Remember that the other students in the class are working under similar constraints--they are taking multiple classes and are often holding down outside employment.