Programming Methology, Fall 2021


Emily Pruc and Marius Minea

TAs: Angela Upreti, Emily First, Matthew Gregory, Saurabh Bajaj, Shruti Shelke, Simon Andrews
UCAs: Abdul Khalil, Daniel Melanson, Evan Fellman, Grace Chang, Kevin Vicente, Leenah Hamdy, Nicolas Asnes, Prateek Roy Choudhury, Seth Franklin, Stephen Scarano, Thomas Williams


This course will not make use of a textbook. Materials will be provided electronically.

Course goals:

The goal of COMPSCI 220 Programming Methodology is to turn you into an advanced programmer with a deep understanding of modern programming methodology. We will emphasize good software engineering skills, including programming abstractions, testing, and debugging. Although the programming language that we will use is JavaScript, we will emphasize general programming principles. Everything that you will learn in the class will be applicable to other modern languages, including (for example) C++, C#, D, Go, Java, Python, Rust, and Swift.

Learning Outcomes

As a successful student, by the end of this course, you will be able to::


To succeed in COMPSCI 220, you should be familiar with the following concepts:

  1. Loops
  2. Variables (declaration and scope)
  3. Defining and using functions to decompose problems
  4. Recursive functions with integer arguments
  5. Algorithms and data structures, including lists, trees, and recursion
It is helpful to review these topics if needed. If you feel insufficiently familar with one of these topics, please speak to course staff immediately. The Moodle site also has guidelines for writing and testing your code.

Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be composed of several different aspects weighted according to the break down below, The default letter grade thresholds for this course are A (93-100), A- (90-92), B+ (87-89), B (83-86), B- (80-82), C+ (77-79), C (73-76), C- (70-72), D+ (67-69), D (60-66), F (0-59). These thresholds are tentative and may be adjusted based on the overall performance of students in the course, but will not be more strict.

Late Homework Policy

Turning homework in late helps no one. When you turn homework in late, you cannot receive feedback on time and risk falling behind, as the course has moved on to the next topic. Instructors cannot detect what material needs to be re-emphasized, etc. Because of this, the general rule is that late homework will not be accepted. The only exception to this are justified medical or personal situations that fall outside the ordinary. Since we don't want to be the arbiter of what is a good justification and what isn't, if you have a medical or personal reason for turning homework in late you must get appropriate documentation from the Dean of Students Office. If they don't think that you are justified, neither do we.

All homework will be due at 11:59 PM on the day they are due. Please allow time to check and make sure you've submitted everything properly, and avoid any unexpected issues (slow Internet connection, uploading the wrong file in a hurry, leaving extraneous code in, etc.) Also, expect assignments to require several programming and testing sessions to complete. We suggest you begin working on them early, so we can all collaborate and help each other with any questions in a timely way.

Academic Honesty and Collaboration Policy

All assignments in this course are individual assignments. You should not work on homework with other students. You are welcome to study and discuss course material together. As a guideline, to distinguish discussion from plagiarism, feel free to discuss problems verbally or via temporary written means (e.g., whiteboard) but do not share written matter (such as code snippets). If you have questions about this matter, please ask.
As members of the College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst we expect everyone to behave responsibly and honorably. In particular, we expect each of you not to give, receive, or use aid in examinations, nor to give, receive, or use unpermitted aid in any academic work. Doing your part in observing this code, and ensuring that others do likewise is essential for having a community of respect, integrity, fairness, and trust.
If you cheat in a course, you are taking away from your own opportunity to learn and develop as a professional. You also hurt your colleagues, and this will hurt people you will work with in the future, who expect an honest and responsible professional.
As faculty, we pledge to use academic policies designed for fairness, avoiding situations that are conducive to violating academic honesty, as well as unreasonable or unusual procedures that assume dishonesty.
We will follow the academic honesty policy and procedures established by the university to ensure that the learning environment is both honest and fair. Integrity is essential in all aspects of higher education, academic dishonesty is prohibited in all university programs, including this course. Academic dishonesty as defined by the University's Academic Honest Policy includes but is not limited to: Any violation of the Academic Honesty Policy could result in a failing grade in COMPSCI 220 and initiation of the formal Academic Honesty Procedures of the University. Students are expected to be familiar with these policies, if you have any questions please email the course instructors for clarification.
The College of Information and Computer Sciences explicitly forbids any redistribution (including publicly available posting on an internet site) of any CICS course materials (including student solutions to course assignments, projects, exams, etc.) without the express written consent of the instructor of the course from which the materials come. Violations of this policy will be deemed instances of “facilitating dishonesty” (since a student making use of such materials would be guilty of plagiarism) and therefore may result in charges under the Academic Honesty Policy.

Equity and Inclusion Statement

We are committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. This course is for everyone. This course is for you, regardless of your age, background, citizenship, disability, sex, education, ethnicity, family status, gender, gender identity, geographical origin, language, military experience, political views, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or work experience. Because of that, one of the things we all need to realize is that we will be bringing different skills to the course, and we will all be learning from and with each other. Some of us are great artists, some of us aren't. Some of us have had previous experience with community organizing, and for some of us that may be something new. Some of us have very definite plans for our professional careers, some of us are still exploring. Each of these skills will help us succeed, both individually and as a group. Please be kind and courteous. There's no need to be mean or rude. Respect that people have differences of opinion, and work and approach problems differently. There is seldom a single right answer to complicated questions. Please keep unstructured critique to a minimum. Criticism should be constructive. Disruptive behavior is not welcome, and insulting, demeaning, or harassing anyone is unacceptable. We follow the university's guidelines for classroom civility. In particular, we don’t tolerate behavior that excludes people in socially marginalized groups. If you feel you have been or are being harassed or made uncomfortable by someone in this class, please contact a member of the course staff immediately, or if you feel uncomfortable doing so, contact the Dean of Students office. This course is for all of us. We will all learn from each other. This is our welcome.


The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to making reasonable, effective and appropriate accommodations to meet the needs of students with disabilities and help create a barrier-free campus. If you have a documented disability on file with Disability Services, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations in this course. If your disability requires an accommodation, please notify your instructors as early as possible in the course so that we may make arrangements in a timely manner.

If you require any special services or accommodations during this course, you must register with Disability Services within the first two weeks of this course. This will give us time to plan accordingly to ensure that you get the help you need before it is too late. If you contact us after the two weeks we may not be able to provide you the help you need.

Schedule and topics (subject to change)

Week Topics
1 Introduction and Higher-order functions
2 Basic JavaScript Features
3 Unit testing
4 Reasoning about types
5 First-class functions
6 Advanced higher-order functions
7 Higher-order functions with data structures
8 Midterm review
9 Property-based testing
10 A mental model of JavaScript (part 1)
11 A mental model of JavaScript part 2
12 Object-Oriented Programming in JavaScript
13 Design patterns: Fluent Design and Builders
14 Streams
15 Garbage Collection
16 Error handling
17 Midterm review
18 Building an interpreter (part 1)
19 Building an interpreter (part 2)
20 Program correctness
21 Design patterns: Publish-subscribe and observers
22 Design patterns: State
23 Design patterns: Memento
24 Object-oriented vs. functional programming
25 Design patterns: Visitor
26 Final review