Programming Methology, Spring 2021


Joe Chiu and Marius Minea

TAs: Shreyas Kulkarni, Chetan Manjesh, Hieu Huy Phan, Edward Schneeweiss, Shiv Shiv Shankar
UCAs: Nicolas Asnes, Eli Bildman, Arya Chaughule, Seth Franklin, George Jiang, RiuLong Jiang, Elisavet Phillipakis, Advait Sharma, Shruti Shelke, 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.

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


To succeed in COMPSCI 220, students should already understand:

  1. Loops
  2. Variables (declaration and scope)
  3. First-order functions
  4. Recursive functions with integer arguments
  5. A few algorithms and data structures including lists, trees, and recursion

Course objectives

Students who complete COMPSCI 220 understand the following topics:

  1. Programming with abstraction (higher-order functions, and object-oriented programming)
  2. Programming with recursively-defined data structures (e.g., trees and lists)
  3. An accurate mental model of programming languages that support mutable state, assignable variables, objects, higher-order functions, and garbage collection.
  4. Testing
  5. Design patterns

Honesty Policy

All assignments in this course are individual assignments. You should not work with any other students. 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. 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 university's academic honesty policy. This means we will report instances of dishonesty, which may lead to formal sanction and/or failing the course.

Grade calculation

Several factors determine your grade in this course. They are weighted as follows:

Component Weight
Homework: programming component 40%
Quizzes 12%
Participation in Discussion Sessions 6%
Lesson questions (associated to videos) 2%
Midterm 1 12%
Midterm 2 12%
Final exam 16%

Late Homework Policy

Turning homework in late helps no one. When students turn homework in late, they fall behind, and then cannot receive feedback on time. TAs and UCAs then cannot grade things in a timely way, because they have started to move into 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.

Topics (subject to change)

Week Topics
1 Higher order functions, Introduction to JavaScript
2 Unit testing
3 First class functions, more higher order functions
4 Higher order functions with data structures
5 A mental model of JavaScript
6 Property based testing, garbage collection
7 A mental model of JavaScript part 2, object oriented programming
8 Design patterns: Builders; Streams
9 Error handling; Publish-subscribe design pattern
10 Programming programming languages
11 Programming programming languages part 2, Design patterns: States
12 Objects vs. functions; Design patterns: Memento
13 Proving program correctness; Design patterns: Visitor

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.