"Introduction to Problem Solving with Computers" using Java

Department of Computer Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Weekly Schedule

Bulletin Board



Programming Assignments (8 of them)
(Handed in thru OWL online tutoring system)
Weekly OWL Exercises (12 of them)
(Handed in thru OWL online tutoring system)
Embedded E-book Exercises (150 of them)
Midterm Exam
Final Exam

The lowest of the eight Programming Assignment grades and the lowest two of the twelve Weekly OWL Exercise grades will be dropped from their respective averages.
(This policy is intended to provide some allowance for sick days or other unavoidable events, not to allow you to skip an assignment you had trouble with. Completion of all 8 Programming Assignments and all 12 Weekly OWL Exercise assignments will count toward "extra credit," which will be used to adjust letter grades at the end of the semester. The exact effect of extra credit will depend on the final grade distribution.)

As you can see the weekly homework assignments make up the largest single portion of your grade. You learn best by doing, not just listening and reading. Stay on top of the homework, and don't get behind! They come fast--right on top of one another. Keep up with the homework and starting the assignments early. Then: (a) you will have more fun when you aren't under time pressure, and you'll learn more; (b) you will then also understand the lectures better, (c) you will finish the assignment more easily because you will have the context and the support of your peers and TAs, (d) you'll be well on your way to a good grade. It's hard for your instructor, TAs and peers to be sympathetic and helpful to someone who didn't put in the effort to get started before the last minute.

Late Homework Policy

With a class of this size, we simply don't have the capacity to grant homework extensions on an individual basis. Homeworks are turned in through the OWL system, which won't accept homeworks after the time they are due. Since you could theoretically have a computer glitch at the last moment, it is best to try to turn in homeworks at least 30 minutes before the deadline. If you are sick, or have a computer glitch, or some other problem, remember that you can drop your two lowest homework grades on the chapter exercises and the programming problems, but we encourage you to finish every homework that you can. And remember, it is much better to turn in a partially done homework than nothing at all (for the programming problems). We encourage you not to "waste" this allowance of two assignments. Try to use them only when absolutely necessary (for sickness, funeral, etc.).

Regrading Policy

If you feel that a homework assignment or exam has been misgraded, you should bring this to the attention of a TA or the instructor. Assignments will be open for regrading for two weeks after their due date, up until the day of the final exam.

Honesty Policy for Homework

  • You must type in and edit your own code and exercise answers.
  • Copying someone else's file or answers is not allowed.
  • Allowing someone else to copy from you, either explicitly or implicitly by leaving your code unprotected, is not allowed.
  • Editing each other's code or answers is not allowed.
  • Copying code you may find on the Web is not allowed.
  • We use powerful, robust tools for detecting plagiarism and copying in homework. Don't take the risk.

Regarding the ethics of what you may or may not discuss with other students:

  • "High level" discussions are fine.
    For example, discussions about the problem statement.
  • "Low level" discussions are fine.
    For example, discussions about Java syntax, understanding compiler error messages, understanding the mechanics of the Java language.
  • "Mid level" discussions require discretion.
    You cannot have someone tell you how to solve the particular problem. Copying code, having someone type code for you, or using code from the internet are all considered cheating. Also, you cannot copy code from the internet or anyone else and then simply change the variable names. This is no better than copying the code.

    Personally, I would only refer to the E-book, and not search for anything on-line. Then you will be in safe territory.

  • You can ask and answer low level questions as described above. However,
    A student who needs help with debugging a program may show another student his/her code.
    A student who is helping someone else may not show his/her code.
  • Use your best judgment to protect both yourself and your friends. In UMass CMPSCI, typically if a professor suspects unwarranted collaboration, all participating parties are penalized (both helpers and helpees).
  • Use your best judgment about asking or answering questions of other students. For example, if you are supposed to implement Algorithm X that is described in the book, and you don't understand Algorithm X, then you can ask another student to explain it to you. However, if you are supposed to come up with your own algorithm to solve a problem, then you can not ask another student to tell you their algorithm.

When in doubt about whether it is ethical to ask or answer a question of another student, ask a TA or the instructor.

Academic Honesty

Any acts of cheating, plagiarism or breaking the above rules will be reported to the University Academic Honesty Board. You are responsible for knowing, and will be held to, the University Academic Honesty Policy. This policy is available online at

By enrolling in the class you are accepting all the above policies.

If you have questions about these policies please talk with the instructor.

(Parts of the above policy wording copied from UPenn and other UMass professors.)