|CPSC 327||Data Structures and Algorithms||Fall 2009|
You are expected to be familiar with the course policies stated below. Ignorance of a policy is not an excuse for violating a policy or being surprised when it is applied to you, and will not exempt you from its penalties.
You are expected to regularly check your HWS email and the course web page (especially the syllabus page). Announcements, assignments, handouts, and other information relevant to the class as a whole will be posted on the course web page. Email will be used in the case of a particularly time-sensitive announcement (e.g. an announcement about a homework which is due in the next class meeting) or for matters which are only relevant to a few people in the class.
|Assignments and Evaluation||
Readings: Readings are an important component of this course, as they provide a starting point for the material that will be covered in class. Readings are to be done before the class period for which they are assigned.
Thinking Problems: Knowledge is gained by thinking about the material, not having it (only) pass in front of your eyes. Readings will often be accompanied by one or two "thinking problems", to prompt you to think more deeply about the material and to set the stage for the day's class meeting. Thinking problems are due at the start of class on the day for which they are assigned.
Homework: Homework problems will be designated as "practice problems" or "creative problems". Practice problems will focus on fundamentals and will be assigned frequently to provide opportunities for rapid feedback. Practice problems are due the next class period after they are assigned. Creative problems will focus on applying the material rather than reciting it.
Projects: Practical applications of the course material will be emphasized in three several-week projects. The projects will involve programming.
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 in this course will be computed as follows:
Attendance: You are expected to attend and be on time for all class meetings. Late arrivals may be marked as absent. Attendance is not explicitly factored into your final grade, but note that a large number of absences often negatively affects your grade. In addition, the number of unexcused absences is taken into account when considering borderline final grades.
Participation: You are also 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. 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.
Exams are due at the time stated. Late exams will only be accepted as outlined under "Missing Class / Make-Up Policy" and "Extensions / Rescheduling Exams" below.
Creative problems and projects will not be accepted more than two class periods after they are due. (e.g. an assignment due Friday will not be accepted after the following Wednesday) Late work will be penalized 5% if turned in by midnight on the due date and 10% per day or part of day thereafter. (e.g. an assignment due Friday will be penalized 30% if it is turned in on Monday) Deductions are calculated as a percentage of the total points possible on the assignment, not the number of points you earned. This policy is intended to discourage habitually late handins and to prevent one late assignment from taking away time needed to work on the next, while still recognizing that sometimes there are circumstances where one just needs a bit more time.
Thinking problems and practice problems will not be accepted late, since they will often be discussed in class on the due date. However, a few "freebies" will be allowed without affecting your grade.
No work will be accepted after the end of the timeslot in which the final exam is scheduled.
Note that computer labs may not be available at all hours or over college holidays, so be sure to take this into account if you are relying on those facilities. Furthermore, labs tend to get very busy right before deadlines, especially at the end of the semester. "I couldn't get my work done because I couldn't find a computer!" is not a valid excuse.
|Missing Class / Make-Up Policy||
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.
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.
Making up work (missed exam or assignment deadline) will only be allowed in the case of an excused absence, and only when it was not possible to have made arrangements in advance. Making up an exam requires documentation from an appropriate person (dean, doctor, etc) to validate the reason for the absence. Arrangements for making up work must be made as soon as possible after the due date missed.
|Extensions / Rescheduling Exams||
Rescheduling of exams and extensions on assignments will only be allowed in compelling circumstances (e.g. an excused absence on exam day, or a series of excused absences covering a significant portion of time before the due date). In particular, note that leaving early for a vacation is generally not a compelling reason, nor is being busy or having a bunch of assignments due at the same time.
Arrangements for rescheduled exams or extensions must be made sufficiently in advance of the date in question - waiting until the day before a team trip which has been scheduled for weeks is not "advance 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".
If arrangements cannot be made in advance (e.g. due to a last-minute emergency), the policy for make-up work applies.
The Principle of Academic Integrity (see the HWS Catalogue, p. 33) governs all of the work completed in this course. Specifically:
You are generally allowed to discuss the course material and assignments with other students and to use other materials (such as reference books or websites) as technical references, but anything you turn in for a grade must be your work - your ideas and your effort. In addition, you must:
For team or group assignments, the policy applies to the group: work submitted must be the ideas and effort of the group, and discussions with or help from people or sources outside the group must be acknowledged.
The exception to the "discussion allowed" rule is exams: exams are to be completed solely by the student whose name is on the paper. The only person you may discuss the exam with is the instructor, and you may use only those materials authorized in the instructions.
You are encouraged to work on thinking problems and practice problems with others in the class. Explaining things to others is a valuable way to cement your own understanding - or to realize that you didn't understand a concept as well as you thought. However, even for these problems, you must still acknowledge your collaboration, fully understand the help, and write up your solution independently.
For other creative problems and projects, however, be careful of collaborating too much with others - it is worth reiterating that what you turn in must be your own work. (You also do yourself a disservice if you rely too much on others, and it is then more likely that you don't fully understand the material - and it is better to discover this before an exam.)
Also be careful when using other materials for help on assignments - it is OK to look for examples of concepts, but not to look for solutions to assignments. See "Plagiarism in Programs and on Problem Sets" below for more information.
Copying part or all of someone else's solution is expressly prohibited, and it is never acceptable to be in possession of someone else's program or solution before you have handed in your own. Decompiling or reverse-engineering someone else's code (including provided code) is also prohibited.
Failure to acknowledge help received will generally result in a warning the first time, and point deductions for subsequent offenses. Submitting work which is unreasonably similar to another person's work and/or not being able to explain any part of your solution will result in a minimum penalty of a 0 on the assignment. A second such offense is grounds for failure in the course. Plagiarism offenses may also be referred to the Committee on Standards.
There are no exceptions to this policy; ignorance of the policy and desperation ("It was the night before it was due and there wasn't anyone else to ask!") are specifically not excuses for violating the policy. If you are having trouble with the course material, come to the instructor! - it is never advantageous to "borrow" someone else's solution, and the time spent trying to disguise this "borrowing" is far better spent getting help.
|Plagiarism in Programs and on Problem Sets||
As with papers, verbatim copying of programs and problem solutions constitutes plagiarism. Also as with papers, plagiarism is not limited to verbatim copying - copying the significant ideas and structure of someone else's program/problem solution also constitutes plagiarism.
But aren't all programs which solve the same task/solutions to the same
problem pretty much the same, so won't my program/solution look like everyone
else's even if I worked by myself?
Programming/problem solving techniques are often explained via examples -
what's the difference between using an example and "copying the
significant ideas and structure"?
OK, then, so I can't use any examples because that constitutes
Using "examples" (as defined above) is generally OK but using "solutions" is not.
There's a fuzzy middle ground here, and I'm still not sure exactly
what is OK and what isn't.
|Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)||
Hobart and William Smith Colleges encourage students to seek the academic collaboration and resources that will enable them to demonstrate their best work. Students who would like to enhance their study skills, writing skills, or have other academic inquiries should contact the CTL. You may visit the CTL web site to learn more about the services and programs that are available: http://www.hws.edu/academics/ctl/
If you are a student with a disability for which you need or may need accommodations, you should self-identify and register with the Coordinator of Disability Services at the Center of Teaching and Learning. You will then be required to provide for review documentation of your disability to that office. Disability related accommodations and services generally will not be provided until the registration and documentation process is complete. Guidelines for documenting disabilities and information pertaining to registration with the CTL can be found at our website: http://www.hws.edu/disabilities
|Extra Time on Exams or Other Accommodations||
If there's something about the course that would serve you better (e.g. course material in other formats), let me know!
If you need extra time on exams or other accommodations, see the section on CTL above. CTL will then provide you with a letter stating what accommodations you are eligible for. You must provide me with this documentation in advance in order to receive accommodations.