CPSC 327 Data Structures and Algorithms Spring 2016

CPSC 327 Assessment

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Assignments and Evaluation

Readings: Readings are an important component of this course; they will be your first exposure to most new material and it is expected that class will not be taken up by a lecture repeating basic content from the reading. Do the assigned reading!

Homework: Expect homework to be frequent, with assignments due most class days. "Pre-class" questions/problems are intended to help identify tricky points that need attention in class and to set up for in-class activities. These will be graded primarily on effort rather than correctness. "Practice" questions/problems are intended to provide additional practice with a topic after discussion in class and will be graded primarily on correctness.

Projects: Three group projects involving the development and implementation of data structures and/or algorithms with emphasize practical applications of the material.

Exams: There will be two midterms and a final exam. All will be take-home exams, and will emphasize applying concepts rather than simple recall. More information about the exams will be provided closer to the exam dates.

Final Grades: Final grades will be computed as follows:

  • Homework: 20%
  • Projects: 40% (approx. 13% each)
  • Exams: 40% (midterms 12% each, final 16%)

Participation: You are expected to participate in class. This does not mean that you have to volunteer for everything, but you should be actively engaged in class - i.e. you are paying attention and contribute meaningfully to the class on a regular basis, and you are on task and contributing to the group during in-class group activities. You should not hesitate to ask questions about the course material, either in class or outside of class via email or office hours - if you remain confused about something, it will make the next topic that much harder. Class participation will be taken into account when considering borderline final grades.

Extra Credit: Some extra credit opportunities may be available on programming assignments and exams. If you are interested in extra credit, take advantage of these opportunities!


You are expected to attend and be on time for all class meetings. Late arrivals or early departures may be marked as absent.

While not explicitly factored into the final grade, attendance can affect your grade in two ways. First, class meetings are important for discussion and understanding of key points beyond the material in the book, and not all material covered in class is in the book. In addition, the number of unexcused absences is taken into account when considering borderline final grades. If a major emergency means that you will miss multiple days of class, see me as soon as possible.

Excused absences include absences due to sports competitions, official Colleges activities such as musical performances or debate competitions, academically-related events such as attending a conference, religious observances, serious illness, or personal or family emergencies. A reason must be provided in order for such an absence to be counted as an excused absence.

Missing class for other reasons - such as being too busy, oversleeping, or leaving early for a vacation - is considered to be an unexcused absence. Any absence for which no reason is provided is automatically considered to be unexcused.

Late Policy, Extensions, and Rescheduling Exams

Homework will not be accepted late, but some homeworks will be dropped when computing the final homework score. Missing homework should be a rare exception, not the rule!

Projects can be turned in late for reduced credit. Projects will be penalized 5% if turned in by midnight on the due date and 10% per day or part of day thereafter up to a maximum deduction of 40%. Note that this amounts to dropping your final grade by about half a letter grade for a project that is four or more days late, so make a point of getting things in on time!

Extensions will only be granted for the kinds of things that count as excused absences, and generally only if a significant portion of the time allocated for the assignment is affected. Note that leaving early for a vacation, being busy, having a bunch of assignments due at the same time, or having troubles with your group are not considered reasons for extensions. Save often and make backups of your files - computer failures do occur and are generally not grounds for an extension.

Arrangements for extensions must be made as far in advance of the deadline as is feasible - don't wait until the day before a team trip which has been scheduled for weeks to begin to make arrangements! In addition, it is the student's responsibility to ensure that there are actual arrangements in place - simply sending an email notification about an upcoming absence does not constitute "arrangements".

No work will be accepted after the end of the Registrar-scheduled final exam time slot.

Making Up Work

Students are responsible for acquiring any notes, handouts, assignments, and other material missed as the result of an absence, whether excused or unexcused. This should be done promptly to avoid falling behind.

Every effort should be made to hand assignments in on time, even if you are absent from class that day. If a last-minute emergency prevents you from handing in completed work on time, the assignment will be accepted late without penalty only if arrangements are made as soon as possible to get the assignment handed in. If you need more time to complete the assignment, arrangements for an extension must generally be made in advance of the deadline - start on assignments early!

Coding Standards

Following reasonable conventions is important for readability of your code. The course coding standards specify the particular conventions you should use in this course. Points may be deducted if programs do not follow these standards.

Being Successful

Some tips:

  • Stay on top of things. This course covers a lot of material, and it is important to practice with the material right away - come to class, review your notes after class, work on assigned homework, and ask questions promptly if something isn't clear.

  • Budget your time carefully. Start assignments early, and plan to spend some time each day working on longer assignments - waiting until the night before something is due makes it more difficult to put in your best effort, and means that you may not have time to get help if you become stuck.

  • Get help when you need it. Spend time trying to solve problems yourself, but then don't hesitate to ask questions in class, stop by office hours, or send email.

Need Help?

If you are having trouble with the course material or get stuck on a problem you can't figure out how to solve, don't just ignore it! While some topics are relatively independent, other concepts will be important throughout the course. Skipping a difficult topic can make it harder to be successful with the next.

Your primary resource should be the instructor - ask questions during class, stop by office hours, send email, or drop by or schedule a meeting.

For more general help, such as with writing, study skills, or time management, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) also has resources to help you. You can talk with me about these resources, visit the CTL office on the 2nd floor of the library to discuss options with the staff, or visit the CTL website. Of most relevance to this course is the Study Mentors program. This program is especially valuable to students just starting college or adjusting to the demands of their choice of major, but all students can benefit. Study Mentors engage directly with each student in the process of adjusting to new academic demands: they help you find the time you need to engage with both your academic and co-curricular activities, accomplish the tasks in front of you, and enhance your reading and study time. Study Mentors may be especially important for those of you who are involved in many activities; work on or off campus; are studying for Teaching Certification, graduate school exams, or prepping for fellowships; or who have one or more unusually demanding courses on your schedule. To meet with a Study Mentor, one option is to go to the TutorTrac link provided on the CTL webpage and make an appointment. You can also contact Ingrid Keenan, x3832, keenan@hws.edu, or drop in at the CTL office on the 2nd floor of the library.

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