CMPSCI 250: Introduction to Computation
David Mix Barrington
Course Requirements and Grading
Your grade in CMPSCI 250 will be based on the following:
- Midterm Exams:
There will be three midterm exams, on Thursday evenings as specified on the
Each will count for 15% of the course grade. I will write exams intended
to be finished in an hour, and give you from 6:00-8:00 to finish them.
(Over the years my students have accused me of overestimating what they
ought to be able to finish in an hour.) There are three similar exams to each
midterm -- a practice and a real exam on
the Fall 2004 250 web site, and a real exam
on the Spring 2005 CMPSCI 250 web site.
Each exam is similar
in length and content to the corresponding real Spring 2006 exam, and solutions
are available for each.
- Final Exam:This will be during the May final exam period
as scheduled by the University, and will be cumulative. You will have two
hours. This exam will count for 25% of your final grade, except that
I will count it for 50%, and reduce the weights of all other components
proportionally, if this is to your advantage. The practice and real final
exam on the Fall 2004 web site,
and the real final exam on the Spring 2005 web site,
are each similar in
length and content to the Spring 2005 exam.
- Homework: There will be eight homework assignments during the term.
Together they will count for 20% of your final grade. The questions will
mostly be taken from the textbook. Late homework will in general not be
accepted -- we'll deal with valid excuses by giving "excused" grades on
particular assignments. There will be some provision for dropping the worst
of the eight homeworks. New this term: Some of the homework will be
group assignments. I will assign groups of three or four students after the
first homework, and each group will be responsible for turning in a single
solution to the group problems after meeting, dividing responsibility, and so
- Discussion Writings: During each of the twelve discussion periods
there will be a problem for which each group is to
submit a written response. Groups for discussions will be assembled at the
time and last only for the discussion period.
These will be graded individually by me on a scale of "check-plus (A)", "check"
(B), "check-minus" (C), and "no response or absent" (F). Any sincere attempt
to solve the problem will get at least a check. Often actually solving the
problem is enough for a check-plus. (Often there will be a series of problems
and I'll decide after the fact how far you need to have gotten for the
check-plus.) The discussion writings will count together for 10% of your
final grade. (Attendence at discussions is thus "required", in that missing
a discussion without a major excuse (medical, family emergency, etc.) incurs
a grade penalty.) (A few discussions may have individual rather than group
Academic Honesty Policy
All work submitted must be your own in presentation. How much
outside help is allowed depends on the course component.
- The exams are
closed-book and no outside help is allowed. Any cheating on an exam
is grounds for an F in the course.
- In discussions, almost anything goes
as a source of information, including the instructor, TA, and your classmates,
but you must still write up the solution in your own words so direct copying
is not allowed.
- With homework the situation is in between and the rule
harder to specify. You may discuss homework with other students, in
fact I encourage this as a learning experience. But again, the writeup must
be your work. Copying is not allowed, and collaboration so close that it
looks like copying is not allowed. (In general, if I get two identical
homeworks I will accept neither of them (i.e., both get F's)
and will give you a stern warning
that could lead to formal action the next time.) A good practice is to divide
your work into an "ideas phase" where you collaborate and a "writeup phase"
where you work alone -- enter the writeup phase with notes, but not written
- If you make use of a printed or on-line source for the homework, other
than specific course materials such as the textbook or web site, please
mention it in your writeup. Of course copying a solution to a problem from
the web is cheating, and this is easier for us to detect than you might think.
Last modified 30 January 2006