CS A101: Introduction to Computer Science

Course Syllabus, Fall 2009 Textbook

Course Description: The objective of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of computer science.  This is not a computer literacy course (e.g., how to use office applications, email, web, etc.) , although we will briefly cover some literacy topics.  It is assumed that students already have basic computer literacy skills, such as how to copy files, navigate the web, etc.   The focus of the course is on topics in computer science.  This is a broad survey of computer science - for most topics we'll spend a week on what would normally be a semester long CS course - and is typically taken by a student to determine if he or she might be interested in majoring in computer science.  Since a variety of topics are introduced, the course will tend to jump around a bit from one topic to the next.  A sampling of topics include:  computer architecture, data representation, artificial intelligence, database systems, operating systems, networking, algorithms, and programming.  We will spend approximately 1/3 of the class learning how to program using the Alice programming language.

Upon completing the course students will understand:

Homework Assignments:   There will be approximately 5 problem assignments throughout the course, although this is subject to change. Assignments will be due electronically on blackboard.  When we get to the programming part of the course, some classes will be scheduled in the computer lab. The date and times will be announced in class.

Computer Lab:  The lab is located in SSB 170.  The "lower lab" is the door at the bottom of the ramp.  Although you can use these computers, they are also slated for use by Chemistry and Math students.  The main lab for CS students is in the "upper lab" at the top of the ramp.  You will need your wolfcard to open the door.  Be careful not to abuse the goodwill of the lab technicians, located in SSB 171. Their jobs are to help you by making sure that you have the resources that enable you to do your work. They are NOT obligated to train you in using the hardware or software. If you need help in understanding a particular application please confer with me, your fellow students, or one of the tutors (pending availability).

Questions: If you have any questions, feel free to come in to my office.  In general, I have an open door policy -- if I am available in my office, you are welcome to come by.  An even better way to reach me is through email.  I check my email frequently and you should receive a response quickly.  Email is preferred over telephone and you will probably receive a faster response since I don't check voicemail very frequently.  You can also contact me online via ICQ, AOL-IM, or MSN Messenger.  See the main course web page for my contact ID's.  I'm often up late and will be glad to answer questions if I'm available!

Exams: Including the final, there will be three exams. If you must miss an exam, notification must be made in advance.  Exams will consist of short-answer, multiple choice questions and a number of problems to work through. Each exam will cover the material since the last exam, but will not be cumulative.

Grading:  Exams and quizzes will be graded and feedback for homeworks will be posted on Blackboard. The grading breakdown is:

Homeworks:  40%   (all homeworks are worth an equal amount)
Exam 1:         20%
Exam 2:         20%
Final:             20%

The grade scale is shown in the table below.  The grading curve may be lowered if necessary but it will not be raised.  This means that if you received an 89% then you will at least get a B+, but may receive a higher grade based on the curve.

An incomplete grade will only be given for a valid excuse (e.g. medical, death in the family). An incomplete grade does not let you take the class over again, your final grade will be assigned based on work submitted in class and work that remains to be submitted.

Cheating: Students are expected to uphold the UAA standard of conduct relating to academic dishonesty outlined in the UAA catalog and student handbook.  Cheating is not tolerated and constitutes grounds for dismissal.  For this class, it is permissible and encouraged to assist classmates in general discussions of computing technologies. You may also discuss homework problems, but it is not permissible to copy another's work (or portions of it) and represent it as your own.